What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Lump, Bump, Growth or Tumor on Skin, Anywhere on Body


Skin lumps and bumps are common and can be tumors, cysts, abscesses, granulomas, foreign bodies, bruises, hematomas, seromas and a variety of other conditions or processes.

  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If the swelling is large, painful or growing rapidly.
  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If a skin lesion is small, not itchy and changing slowly or not at all.
You also might be observing
Very Common
Less Common
more observations

your role


What To Do

When evaluating lumps and bumps, note their location, size, whether they are single or multiple, and record the date that you first noticed them. Press on bumps gently to get a sense of their firmness and whether they are painful to pressure. Consider whether they are covered in hair or not and whether they feel firmly rooted or mobile. Keep track of the appearance and size of a lump or bump by taking a photo, with a ruler in the photo for perspective. It is very useful to take excellent photos and share them with your vet.

You can give a small bump a little time to see if it resolves on its own, but you should call your vet with any questions or concerns, especially if it is rapidly growing in size, appears "angry" (inflamed, red, painful), or if it has ruptured and is oozing blood or other liquid or material.

your vet's role

Vets use history, and physical examination to start. Certain lumps and bumps with certain characteristics and in certain locations are considered "classic" for certain conditions. Examples are a lump on the soft outside of the skin above the nostril is classic for False Nostril Cyst. A fluid-filled swelling on the top and outside of the hock is classic for fluid in the top joint of the hock (called a bog). In addition, we may choose to aspirate or biopsy a mass, radiography or ultrasound.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • When did you first notice this problem?
  • How large is it?
  • Where, precisely is it?
  • Is it firm or soft?
  • Is there pain, heat or additional swelling?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?
  • How many bumps are there?
  • Have the number or size of the bumps changed?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

The cause of the problem. These are conditions or ailments that are the cause of the observations you make.

Very Common
Less Common
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Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A way to resolve the condition or diagnosis. Resolving the underlying cause or treating the signs of disease (symptomatic treatment)

Very Common
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Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP