Ear Lump — Causes and Treatments for Lump Behind Ear

An ear lump is a swollen or bulging area in or around the ear. it can be benign (not harmful) or more serious, depending on the cause. Common causes of lumps in the ears include infections, inflammation, tumors, and injuries. Some ear lumps may resolve on their own, while others may persist.

This article explains the various causes of lumps in and around the ear. It will also cover the possible symptoms, diagnosis of lumps in the ears, and possible treatments and complications.

An ear lump is a bump or localized area of ​​swelling that can occur anywhere on the ear. Other terms used to describe the various types of lumps include lump, nodule, tumor, and cyst.

Common sites for ear lumps include:

  • behind the ear
  • in the ear canal
  • in the earlobe

Causes of lumps in the ears include infection, inflammation, tumors, or injury. Depending on the cause, ear lumps can be soft or firm, painful or painless. there may be a single lump or multiple lump. they may grow rapidly or not change size.

Lumps in the ears caused by infection, inflammation, or injury are temporary. they will go away when the underlying condition is resolved or treated. Ear lumps that persist or grow over time may indicate more serious conditions, such as tumors.

There are many possible causes of lumps in the ears, including:

  • benign cysts
  • infections
  • inflammatory diseases
  • traumatisms
  • tumors
  • cancers

Cysts, fluid-filled sac-like structures that can form in various parts of the body, often feel like lumps. some cysts develop from inflammation or tumors. others may be present at birth. types of benign cysts include:

  • Sebaceous cysts are filled with pus, dead skin cells, and excess oil. They are the most common type of cysts. they can form behind the ear, especially along the hairline. The causes of sebaceous cysts are unknown, but they can occur when oils are produced faster than they can be released from the skin gland.
  • dermoid cysts form when hair, skin cells, or other tissue not normally found in the area becomes trapped under the skin. This small, noncancerous lump under the skin is smooth and nontender. it is most common at birth.
  • Brachial cleft cysts are also common in children and are seen at birth. they commonly form along the neck, but can form below the ear along the jaw area and extend into the openings of the ear canal. These cysts form when the tissues in the area do not develop naturally during embryonic development.
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An infection can cause one or more lumps in the ears. lumps in the ears due to local infectious causes may appear as boils or abscesses. Infections in other parts of the body can cause the lymph nodes behind and below the ears near the jaw to become enlarged and feel like lumps.

A lump in the ear and tenderness in the bone behind the ear, along with pain and swelling, could indicate mastoiditis, an infection of the mastoid bone.

A preauricular fossa is a small hole between the ear where it joins the face, above the ear canal. this is a birth defect where the sinus tract runs under the skin. a preauricular fossa can become infected and form a lump or abscess.

Infectious causes of lumps in the ears include:

  • acne
  • herpes virus infections
  • mononucleosis, a viral infection
  • mumps, a viral infection of the salivary glands in the neck
  • upper respiratory virus infection, including the common cold

Minor and severe injuries can lead to a localized swelling or lump in the ear, including:

  • head injury
  • sting or bite injuries
  • hematoma, a collection of blood in body tissues is common with serious injuries, such as from a car accident or contact sports such as boxing or wrestling.

A hematoma is a collection of blood in the body’s tissues. it is common with serious injuries, such as car accidents or contact sports such as boxing or wrestling.

Treatment of a hematoma in the external ear (atrium) includes drainage and application of a pressure bandage. treatment can prevent thickening of the ear, known as cauliflower ear.

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A lump near the ear associated with a head injury may indicate bleeding in the brain or another emergency and may have life-threatening complications. Seek immediate medical attention (call 911) if you have a lump near your ear from a head injury.

Benign and malignant tumors of the skin or soft tissues may feel like lumps. In these cases, a biopsy or surgical removal of the lump can determine if cancer is present.

Exostoses and osteomas, types of tumors that grow on the bones of the ear canal, can cause lumps in the ears. these bone tumors are not malignant.

Examples of benign tumors that can cause lumps include:

  • fibroma, a benign tumor composed of fibrous or connective tissue
  • lipoma, a benign fatty growth
  • nevus, skin moles
  • non-melanoma skin cancers

Examples of malignant tumors that can cause lumps include:

  • lymphoma, cancer of the lymphatic system
  • melanoma, cancer arising in melanocytes, or pigment-producing cells, in the skin or other parts of the body)
  • other skin cancers, including squamous cell and basal cell.

A lump in the ear may accompany other symptoms, depending on the underlying disease, disorder, or condition. Certain conditions that cause lumps in the ears can also involve other body systems.

A lump in the ear may be accompanied by other localized symptoms, including:

  • itching
  • pus or discharge
  • redness, warmth or swelling
  • tenderness or pain

A lump in the ear may accompany symptoms related to other body systems, including:

  • cough
  • fever and chills
  • headache
  • stiffness and pain in the joints
  • runny nose
  • sore throat
  • sweating
  • unexplained weight loss

Ear lumps are often found during a routine ear exam when your doctor examines your ear canal. During your exam, you may also be given:

  • hearing test, known as audiometry
  • middle ear test, known as tympanometry
  • computed tomography scan

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care professional will ask you a number of questions related to your ear lump, including:

  • How long have you had the lump in your ear?
  • Do you have any other symptoms along with the lump in your ear?
  • Does the lump in your ear Is the ear getting bigger?
  • Does the lump in the ear hurt or feel tender?
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Benign ear cysts grow slowly. sometimes they shrink or disappear on their own. You usually don’t need treatment unless the cyst causes pain or affects your hearing.

If a cyst becomes painful, it may be infected. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or suggest removing the cyst.

A tumor sometimes increases in size over time. You may need surgery to remove the tumor if:

  • causes pain
  • interferes with hearing
  • leads to frequent ear infections
  • causes disfigurement

Your doctor may also refer you to a specialist. Skin-related lumps in the ears can be treated by a dermatologist. An otolaryngologist treats lumps in the ear canal or under the skin around the ear.

If left untreated, lumps in the ears due to abscesses or serious infections can lead to a generalized infection in the body.

Possible complications of cancerous lumps in the ears include the spread of the cancer, depending on the type and stage (extent) of the cancer.

Following your treatment plan for serious causes of lumps can help reduce the risk of complications, including:

  • ear infection
  • hearing loss
  • cancer spread
  • infection spread

Ear lumps can occur anywhere in or around the ear and have many causes, including injury, infection, inflammation, and tumors. they can be soft or firm, painful or painless, temporary or fast-growing. persistent ear lumps may be a sign of a more serious condition.

Contact a doctor if you notice any symptoms of a lump in your ear, such as redness, itching, swelling, discomfort, pain, or hearing loss. Depending on the cause of your ear lump, your doctor may prescribe medication or surgery or refer you to a specialist for further evaluation and treatment.

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