Lump Under the Jawline
How to Deal with a Lump Under the Jawline
The bottom edge of a person’s face that is formed by the lower jaw is called the jawline. Surrounding it are chewing muscles and the other muscles that envelop the face and neck. Whenever there is difficulty moving, clenching, or opening the jaw, there could be a lump under the jawline. Feeling pain while chewing, swallowing. or yawning could be indications of a health problem, as well.
A lump under the jawline can sometimes produce pain in nearby areas. Pain in the teeth, gums, or around the ears may be symptoms of jawline problems, as well.
For some, there is already an irregular formation under the jawline that is visible.
There is no fixed description to characterize a lump under the jawline. It could be as small as a toy marble or a grape. It could also be as big as a large coin or a thumb. It could be as hard as a rock or as soft as a marshmallow when it is composed of small tissues. It could cause stinging pain or be relatively painless. The lump could also disappear eventually without treatment or remain and even increase in size. Some even reappear days or weeks after an abrupt disappearance.
A lump could even be fixated or movable. Aside from being located under the jawline, a lump can also be found in other areas around the jaw, such as near the ear, below the ear, to the left or right of the jawline, and close to the chin. It is important to consider these various characteristics of a lump formation. The factors of size, hardness, pain levels, appearance, and location need to be determined correctly.
All of these symptoms and characteristics point to the fact that these people with lumps under their jawlines could be susceptible to a number of illnesses.
The hardness or softness of a lump can help determine the cause of the formation under the jawline. Rigid and rubbery lumps may pertain to the cancer of lymph nodes, which is called lymphoma. Lumps that are as hard as stones may suggest other types of cancer. But since the characterization of lumps is really established on a case-by-case basis, the severe hardness of a lump does not always point to a serious health condition.
The same can be said whether or not a lump causes a patient to experience pain. More often than not, a lump that causes agonizing pain indicates a serious condition. But even those that are associated with only minimal pain can also point to cancer. In fact, there are several lump formations that do not cause pain at all, yet they have been tested to be cancerous. Severe pain caused by a lump may be a glaring sign of a serious sickness. But the absence of pain must not be disregarded.
The location of a lump is also of utmost importance. The location is usually traced to the organ that is in closest proximity to the formation. But it does not guarantee that the nearest organ to the lump is the one that is affected. A lump located below the jawline may still point to many possible causes. It can certainly be caused by the malfunction of a nearby organ, but it can also be brought about by bacteria and illnesses, among other factors.
Does Size Matter?
The size of a lump under the jawline, which is usually a source of worry and apprehension, does serve as the sole basis to determine the condition of a patient. A small lump does not necessarily mean it is a harmless formation. It also does not automatically follow that a large lump manifests a serious condition, such as cancer. The lump size must be considered with the other factors of a lump formation. In this aspect, size does not matter.
Common Glands or Organs Affected when There is a Lump below the Jawline
Gland or Organ
Acts within the immune system as a filter for cancer cells, bacteria, and foreign particles
Produces saliva which is formed into a digestive enzyme that breaks down starch into glucose and maltose
Covers the alveolar parts of the jaws and surrounds the necks of teeth
Prevents food and drink to be inhaled in to the lungs and works with various body parts such as the ears, nose, and mouth
The Many Causes of Lump Under the Jawline
Most of the time, a lump found below the jawline is caused by the swelling of one, a couple, or several lymph nodes. When a patient has an infection, his lymph nodes tend to become enlarged or sore while trying to fight the illness. The lymph nodes located at the jaw can be affected by infections around the mouth, teeth, tongue, and gums. The jaw nodes may also swell due to upper respiratory tract infections like sore throat as well as infections on the face, scalp, pharynx, eyes, ears, neck, sinuses, and head.
When it has been proven that a lump is due to an immune problem, then the principal health condition must be named and treated immediately so that the swelling of lymph nodes will subside. Some of the common infections that can cause a swollen lymph node below the jawline include mouth sores, infectious mononucleosis, impacted teeth, laryngitis, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, mumps, measles, rubella, infections of the skin such as acne and pimples, chickenpox, infected wounds, and physical injuries.
Some of the infections that uncommonly cause the swelling of lymph nodes are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), eating undercooked meat, tuberculosis, lupus of the lungs, rheumatoid arthritis, cat or dog bites, parasitic infections from cats, and toxoplasmosis. Having goiter can also cause not just the thyroid gland to swell but also the lymph node located under the jaw.
The most menacing cause of a swollen lymph node is cancer. Lymphoma and leukemia, the cancer found in the blood and bone marrow, are not the only types of cancer that can cause a lymph node to experience inflammation. Other cancers can cause various lymph nodes in the body to swell including those located at the jaw. Cancerous nodes are usually not moveable and do not cause pain. Malignant cancerous nodes become painful when they are experiencing hemorrhage into a necrotic center.
Aside from the swelling of the lymph nodes, a lump formation can also point to the inflammation of the salivary gland. Salivary glands are not felt because they are under the skin. But when they become infected and enlarged, they can be felt because of the pain. The infection of the submandibular glands, which are major salivary glands situated under the floor of the mouth, usually leads to the formation of a lump under jawline. The blockage and malfunctioning of salivary glands also lead to the development of a usually hard and painful lump beneath the jawline. This is the salivary gland stone that comes up when saliva chemicals form a crystal that blocks the flow of saliva from a salivary gland near the jawline. Such lump could also indicate salivary gland cancer, which occurs rarely as compared to other types of cancer.
Other causes of a lump formation under the jawline are related to the teeth and gums. Some patients who have undergone a wisdom tooth extraction may have a lump below their jawline due to the extraction process itself or because of an infection after the removal of the tooth. A lump caused by wisdom tooth extraction usually vanishes in due time. Having an abscessed tooth is another possible cause of a lump. An abscessed tooth or periapical abscess comes up when the nerve of a tooth is dying or already dead. It is a bacterial infection due to the tooth decay. The swelling starts at the tip of the root of the tooth and then spreads out to the surrounding bone. If untreated, it can form a painful cyst because of the buildup of pus. This kind of lump can be felt from inside one’s mouth because of the swelling of the gum around the tooth.
A bacterial infection of the throat such as streptococcal pharyngitis may also cause a lump under the jawline to take shape. Better known as strep throat, this infection affects the back of the throat including the tonsils. The lump, on the other hand, could also just be a harmless cyst. Cysts, which are sac-like structures, form within the tissue and can show up on any part of the body. These soft or hard structures grow gradually and usually do not cause pain. Although usually harmless, some cysts can also allude to serious illnesses.
The lump below the jawline could also be a tumor which is a mass of tissue found inside or outside the body that is composed of abnormal cells. A lump in the shape of a dome, meanwhile, could be a lipoma. It is a movable lump that is considered harmless because it is a non-cancerous mass. If a lump looks like a big tender pimple, it could just be a boil with debris and pus at the center. A boil may form when the skin breaks and germs enter the glands. A boil may also develop when there is an enlargement of facial hair follicle.
Those who have undergone cosmetic surgery procedures may also experience the appearance of at least one lump below their jawlines. One who has gone through facelift surgery may have a hard lump because of a scar tissue. The lump may also be caused by the swelling of a prominent gland or the inflammation of the area around the stitch. In some cases, the cosmetic, plastic, or dermatological surgeon could have made a mistake during surgery, resulting in a contour irregularity. Those who have received juvederm injections may also experience the same fate as some facelift surgery patients. Juvedurm is an injectable facial filler used to reduce wrinkles and soften deep folds. It is usually injected into the cheeks and jawlines. Injecting such facial filler into the jawline could lead to the formation of lumps due to the swelling, which is expected to last for one to two weeks.
Even those with the common cold or sore throat are not spared from experiencing a lump below their jawlines. Some develop a lump while nursing their cold or sore throat. But the lump customarily fades away once the cold or sore throat is gone.
A few major causes for lumps under the jawline are:
- Bacterial infections: e.g., actinomyces
- Viral infections: e.g., human pappiloma virus (HPV)
- Infection from bug bites: e.g., Lyme disease
- Non-cancerous growths: e.g., lipoma, tonsilitis, salivary gland inflammation
- Cancers: e.g., oropharyngeal cancer, salivary gland cancer
What To Do with a Lump
With the many possible causes of the formation of a lump under the jawline come the many plausible treatments for the said lump. There are various home remedies to alleviate the pain caused by a lump. But these home remedies are not substitutes for medications. These remedies are recommended for those whose lumps are caused by harmless conditions and are not experiencing excruciating pain. These homemade solutions are expected to work better when a patient takes medications that are prescribed by a doctor such as painkillers and antibiotics.
A warm water massage can be done to increase the blood flow to the lump area and expedite the healing process. One just has to soak a clean towel in warm water and then hold it against the lump for 20 to 30 minutes. The towel must be kept warm and should be soaked in the water several times. The warm water massage can be done three to four times daily. An alternative to a towel soaked in warm water is a hot water bottle.
A salt water gargle may be done at least twice a day to relieve swollen lymph nodes. It may help in draining enlarged lymph nodes of excessive fluids. One just has to add a teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water and then gargle it three to five times a day. An alternative to the salt water gargle is the lemon gargle. The antibiotics in the lemon can help fight bacterial infections so as to lessen the inflammation of lymph nodes. One just has to blend the lemon to extract the juice. The peels may also be blended. Once extracted, the juice can be added to a glass of warm water. This solution may be gargled three times a week.
Garlic is also a natural potent tool to fight bacterial infection because it contains the organosulfur compound, allicin. This sulfuric compound fights swelling and sickness very well. Chewing on fresh garlic cloves may be done by someone who has a lump under the jawline. Other natural foods that may be consumed to fight infections are pineapple and ginger. These, along with garlic, help boost the immune system where the lymph nodes belong. Pineapple is rich in bromelain that helps the body in killing unwanted microorganisms, while ginger has antibacterial properties that support the immune system. Garlic cloves may also be crushed to extract the juice which may be gargled three to four times a day. The leaves of herbs such as cleavers and Echinacea may also be crushed to extract juice that may be gargled. Cleavers and Echinacea leaves are known to have cleansing properties.
Those with lumps under the jawline are reminded to maintain proper dental hygiene. They are advised to brush their teeth tenderly after every meal to avert further food decay that might worsen the situation of the lump. It is also advised that they use fluoride toothpastes together with fluoridated drinking water and fluoride or antiseptic mouthwash. They may also use a solution of two teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide and warm water to rinse their mouth without swallowing. An alternative is to use a cotton ball to apply the hydrogen peroxide and water solution to the lump area. Hydrogen peroxide is known to be a natural disinfectant that is good in killing bacteria and relieving pain and inflammation.
Seeking Professional Help
When the abovementioned home remedies do little or fail to relieve the pain, it is advised to see a doctor right away. In fact, these home remedies are just immediate pain relievers. Those with a lump under the jawline are advised to go to a clinic or hospital straight away. This advice also applies to those whose lumps have disappeared already because it is better to find out the causes of lump formations, especially since they could pertain to certain illnesses.
Your doctor will very likely refer to you an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) physician, because the area of the jawline is covered by that specialty. The ENT will be able to determine if the lump is caused by something that is inconsequential or serious by performing a physical examination that includes touching the jaw. The doctor may also recommend a series of tests like blood tests, liver function studies, kidney function studies, and a chest x-ray.
After examining the patient, the doctor will be able to prescribe the right painkillers as well as antibiotics, if needed. Some painkillers and anti-inflammatory medicines may be available over the counter, but these should be taken with caution. It is better for patients to get the right dosage prescription from a doctor. The same goes for antibiotics. A patient with a lump under the jawline must not just take antibiotics without seeing a doctor. According to MayoClinic.com, antibiotics must be taken only if there are lymph nodes which are enlarged due to a bacterial infection. There are many causes of the swelling of lymph nodes that is why the diagnosis and prescription of a doctor are vital.
Those who have serious and delicate lumps may receive an advanced ultrasound treatment in the hospital. Doctors can use the ultrasound to break up scar tissues which may be causing lumps below the jawline. For those who have lumps under the jawline after undergoing facelift surgery, doctors may inject steroids into their jaws. The injection of steroids aims to lessen the formation of scar tissues and diminish the swelling of the lumps.
Meanwhile, a doctor may recommend for a biopsy to be performed if the lump under the jawline is suspected to be cancerous. The procedure of a biopsy involves removing a piece of tissue or a sample of cells from a patient’s body so that it can be analyzed in a laboratory to check for illnesses. For a lump that is suspected to manifest salivary gland cancer, a fine needle aspiration biopsy will be done. This involves using a needled syringe to draw fluid from the salivary glands.
Should the lump be proven to be cancerous, one must not fret. Doctors are able to treat most cancers if they are detected in their early stages. Cancer may be treated by surgery, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and chemotherapy. Sometimes, a cancer patient is treated by a combination of therapies. Early detection is essential that is why those with lumps below their jawline are recommended to see a doctor right away.
When one who has a lump below his jawline (or knows someone who has a lump under his jawline) has read about all these pieces of information on lumps found under the jawline, he must be able to do something. There is no option for doing nothing. This is because no matter how small or painless a lump is, it is better to have it checked. No matter what course of action one will choose, remember that lumps must not go unnoticed. It is important to have early detection and prevention before it is too late to avert a possible serious disease.
Consult Your Doctor
It's always recommended that you consult your doctor immediately whenever you notice any of the above symptoms. The emergence of a lump under the jawline, or pain along the jawline, can be indications of a serious condition.