If you have noticed a lump behind your ear, there’s no need to immediately panic. Many different conditions can cause a lump, most of which are relatively benign. Let’s examine some of the most common causes of lumps behind the ear and when you might need to seek medical care.
Common Causes of a Lump Behind the Ear
- Pimples can appear anywhere on your body, including behind your ear. Sometimes larger pimples can form under the skin and feel more like a lump. Acne can often be treated with over-the-counter topical medications. If those don’t work, a dermatologist can prescribe stronger medication.
- Lipomas are fatty lumps of tissue that are benign skin growths. They are soft and movable. Even though they are harmless they can sometimes cause discomfort. In cases where the discomfort becomes especially bothersome, you can have the lump removed.
- Cysts are noncancerous sacs of fluid and dead skin cells. They are soft, and usually painless unless they become infected. If an infection occurs antibiotics can treat it. Otherwise, most cysts go away on their own.
- Infections. If you come down with a cold, flu, strep throat or other infection the lymph nodes behind your ear may become swollen. Depending on the cause or severity of the infection, prompt medical treatment may be needed.
Should You See a Doctor?
Several infections, like the common cold, clear up on their own and often don’t require medical attention as long as symptoms don’t worsen. A few days spent taking it easy and having your partner pick up a bowl of your favorite soup at Wildflower might be all you need to recover.
In other cases, you might need to see a doctor to prescribe antibiotics and/or to prevent the infection from worsening. If you notice any of the following symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor.
- The lump behind your ear is red, swollen, painful or hard and immovable
- The lump gets bigger or doesn’t start to go away in a few weeks
- Night sweats
- Unexplained weight loss
In certain cases, untreated ear infections can result in a serious infection called mastoiditis. This affects the mastoid bone behind the ear and can cause a lump. Mastoiditis requires immediate treatment, so if you experience these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately:
- Ear drainage and pain
- Redness around the ear
- Trouble hearing or hearing loss
Could a Lump Behind the Ear Be Cancer?
While tumors can occasionally form behind the ear, cancerous tumors are not common in that location. However, if you are concerned, you should see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis. Cancerous lumps are more likely to be:
- Hard and fixed in place
- Uneven or irregular in shape
Make sure to tell your doctor when the lump first appeared, and about any additional symptoms you are experiencing.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Arizona Desert ENT Specialists today.