Pimple behind ear

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Boils in and Around the Ear

Ear boil

If you have a bump in or around your ear, chances are it’s either a pimple or a boil. Either one can be painful and cosmetically displeasing.

If you think you may have a boil in or around your ear, learn more about how it’s diagnosed and treated, and what may have caused it.

Is the bump in my ear a boil?

If you have a painful bump in, on, or around your ear, it may be a boil. Boils appear as reddish, hard lumps in the skin. They are more likely to appear in places where you have hair and sweat.

You might be thinking that you don’t have hair inside your ear canal, but you definitely do. The hair in your ear is in place, along with earwax, to keep debris and dirt from getting to your eardrum.

Because it’s virtually impossible for you to visually inspect the area in and even around your ear, it can be difficult to tell a boil from a pimple. Typically, if the bump gets larger than a pea and becomes fluctuant (that is, compressible due to fluid inside), it’s most likely not a pimple.

If you are able to see the bump either by looking in the mirror, taking a photo, or having a trusted individual take a look for you, you can check to see if the bump is larger, pinkish red, and possibly has a white or yellow center. If a lesion like this is present, it’s probably a boil.

If the boil is actually in your ear, you may experience pain in your ear, jaw, or head. You may also experience some issues in hearing, as the bump may be blocking your ear canal.

How do I get rid of an ear boil?

You should never pick at or attempt to pop, puncture, or cut open a boil. A boil typically contains bacterial infection that may spread and result in further infection or more boils.

Sometimes boils heal on their own and don’t need medical treatment. To help your boil open and drain:

  • keep the area clean and free of additional irritants
  • use warm compresses on the boil several times a day
  • don’t attempt to squeeze or cut the boil

If you use a warm compress over your inside ear, make sure that it’s made out of medical cloth that’s clean. Also, make sure the cloth is fairly dry as you don’t want to provide an environment for swimmer’s ear to occur.

If the ear boil doesn’t heal on its own in two weeks, it will need medical attention.

Your doctor will likely perform minor surgery on the boil by making a small cut through the surface of the boil to drain out the pus that built up inside. Your doctor may also give you antibiotics to help the infection.

You should seek medical treatment for a boil if:

Don’t attempt to scratch or touch the boil inside your ear with tweezers, fingers, cotton swabs, or any other objects. The ear canal is sensitive and can be easily scratched, which could lead to further infection.

What causes ear boils?

Boils are relatively common. They are caused by bacteria that fester underneath your skin near a hair follicle. Most often, the bacterium is a Staphylococcus species, such as Staphylococcus aureus, but boils can be caused by other types of bacteria or fungi as well.

The infection occurs within the hair follicle. Pus and dead tissue builds up deeper in the follicle and pushes towards the surface, which causes the bump that you can see or feel.

Other areas that have hair and frequent perspiration are more likely to be affected by boils such as:

You can try to prevent boils from occurring in and around your ears by washing your ears gently when you shower or bathe.


Your ear boil may heal on its own. Be sure to keep it clean and refrain from attempting to pick or pop the boil.

If your boil causes extreme pain, is accompanied by other symptoms, or doesn’t go away in two weeks, have your doctor examine your boil and recommend treatment.

Sours: https://www.healthline.com/health/ear-boil

Home »  Ear »  Do You Have A Lump Behind Your Ear: Here's What It Means?


  1. Most ear lumps are harmless
  2. They don't indicate serious danger to health
  3. Ear lumps can be treated with antibiotics

Any lumps or nodules behind the ear are usually considered harmless. If there's an infection, you might need medication. But in most cases, ear lumps do not signal a dangerous problem. There can be many reasons for knots, bumps, lumps or nodules in your body. People who have history of acne might find it easy to diagnose a lump. But otherwise, the best way to check for lumps or nodes is by touching the area behind your ears to see if there's any skin protruding out.

If the protruding skin feels soft, it is a fatty lump or lipoma. If the spot is tender, but painful, it can be a pimple. If you are experiencing fever or chills, it might indicate infection.

Read below to know the reasons why you have or might have a lump behind your ear:

1. Infections

Bacterial and viral infections can often lead to swelling around neck and face. Infections like measles, chicken pox and HIV are quite likely to give lumps.

Also read: What Your Ears Say About Your Health

2. Lipoma

Lipoma is a lump which develops between different layers of skin. These lumps can develop anywhere in the body are harmless. They are visible on the skin surface and might even grow in size over time.

3. Acne vulgaris

In acne, pimples and bumps may develop when dead skin cells and oil clog hair follicles on the skin. These lumps can grow large in some cases and also cause discomfort.

4. Abscess

When cells or tissues in the body get infected, it gives room to the development of abscess. White blood cells react to these infections by attempting to kill harmful bacteria or virus. But white blood cells often begin accumulating in the infected area, does causing development of pus. An abscess is warm and painful to touch.

5. Lymphadenopathy

This is a condition which begins in our lymph nodes - which are present under our arms, neck, pelvis and behind eats. These lymph nodes end up in swelling in case of infections.

Also read: Here's Why You Must Get Your Child's Ears Pierced

6. Mastoiditis

On times your ear infection go untreated, it might lead to a condition known as mastoiditis. Mastoiditis is an infection which develops in the bony protruded area behind the year. It can lead to development of pus-filled cysts.

7. Otitis media

Otitis media is also a kind of ear infection. Ear infections can either be bacterial or viral. They can cause swelling and buildup of fluids. Antibiotics can be helpful in treating such ear infections.

8. Sebaceous cysts

These cysts are bumps that arise underneath the skin. Common spaces where sebaceous cysts develop are neck, head and torso. The cyst develops around the sebaceous gland - which is responsible for lubrication of skin and hair. These cysts are not painful but might cause minor discomfort or irritation.

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.

DoctorNDTV is the one stop site for all your health needs providing the most credible health information, health news and tips with expert advice on healthy living, diet plans, informative videos etc. You can get the most relevant and accurate info you need about health problems like diabetes, cancer, pregnancy, HIV and AIDS, weight loss and many other lifestyle diseases. We have a panel of over 350 experts who help us develop content by giving their valuable inputs and bringing to us the latest in the world of healthcare.

Sours: https://doctor.ndtv.com/ear/do-you-have-a-lump-behind-your-ear-heres-what-it-means-1818219
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Hard Lump Behind The Ear: 6 Causes & What To Do

In most cases, a hard lump behind the ear isn't painful, itchy, or uncomfortable and, so, it’s generally not a sign of something dangerous at all, just a sign that can appear with simple situations such as acne or a benign cyst.

However, a  lump can also be due to infections in the area, requiring more attention and appropriate treatment. So, if the lump causes pain, takes a long time to disappear, it’s very irregular in shape or if it increases in size, it’s very important to see a dermatologist or general practitioner to identify the cause and start treatment.

Hard Lump Behind The Ear: 6 Causes & What To Do

As indicated, a hard lump behind the ear can have mane possible causes:

1. Infection

Lumps behind the ear can be caused by infections in the throat or neck, such as pharyngitis, a cold, the flu, mononucleosis, otitis, conjunctivitis, herpes, cavities, gingivitis, or the measles. This happens due to the swollen lymph nodes in the area, which increase in size as the body fights the infection.

When this happens, it’s important not to touch the swollen area so as to help with recovery, as the nodes slowly return to their original size as soon as the underlying infection has been treated.

2. Acne

Acne occurs when the pores of the skin become blocked because of the overproduction of sebum by the sebaceous glands, which are located at the base of the hair follicle. The sebum produced by these glands mix with dead skin cells and then this mixture forms a pimple that can swell and become painful.

In rarer cases, acne can also affect the skin behind the ear,causing a lump that can disappear on its own. 

3. Sebaceous cyst

The sebaceous cyst is a type of lump that forms under the skin and is made up of a substance called sebum, which can appear in any area of the body. It’s generally soft to the touch, can move when touched or pressed, and usually doesn't hurt unless it’s swollen, sensitive, and reddish, becoming painful. A dermatologist may recommend minor surgery to remove the cyst. 

A round, soft lump on the skin can also be a lipoma, a type of benign tumor made up of fat cells, which must also be removed through surgery or liposuction.

4. Mastoiditis

Mastoiditis is an infection in the bone located behind the ear and that can occur after an ear infection, especially if it wasn't treated correctly.

This condition is more common in children under the age of 2, but it can occur at any age, and have other symptoms such as headaches, decreased hearing ability,and fluid coming out of the ear.

5. Lipoma

Lipoma is a type of lump that doesn't cause pain or other symptoms. It is an overgrowth of fat cells which can appear anywhere on the body and grows slowly. 

What makes lipoma different to a sebaceous cyst is its constitution. A lipoma is made up of fat cells and the sebaceous cyst is made up of sebum; however, the treatment is always the same: surgery to remove the fibrous capsule.

6. Swollen lymph nodes

Lymph nodes, also known as lymph glands, are spread throughout the body, and when they become enlarged, this usually mean an infection or inflammation of the area in which they appear. they may also become swollen due to autoimmune diseases, the use of drugs, or even cancerof the head and neck, or lymphoma, for example. 

Lumps tend to have benign and temporary causes, measuring a few millimeters in diameter and disappearing in a period of about 3 to 30 days. However, if they continue to grow, last longer than 30 days, or if you have other symptoms such as weight loss and fever, it’s important to go to the doctor for the appropriate treatment.

When to seek medical assistance

It is recommended to go to the doctor if the lump appears suddenly, doesn't move when touched, lasts for a long time, or presents other signs and symptoms such as:

  • Pain and redness;
  • Increase in size;
  • Releases pus or another liquid;
  • Difficulty moving the head or neck;
  • Difficulty swallowing.

In these cases, the doctor can examine the lump based on its appearance and reaction to touch, as well as assess other symptoms such as fever and chills, which may indicate an infection. If the lump is painful, it may be a sign of an abscess or pimple.

The treatment depends a lot on the origin of the lump, which can disappear without any treatment or may need antibiotics or even surgery.

Sours: https://www.tuasaude.com/en/lump-behind-the-ear/

8 Causes of Lumps Behind the Ears

Understanding lumps behind the ears

In most cases, lumps or nodules behind the ears are harmless. They may signal a need for medication, as in the case of an infection, but they rarely are a sign of a dangerous or life-threatening problem.

Several conditions may lead to knots, lumps, bumps, or nodules behind your ears. In order of likelihood, they are:

1. Infection

Many bacterial and viral infections can cause swelling in and around your neck and face. Two such infections are strep throat and infectious mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr virus). Other conditions can also cause swelling in and around the neck and face. They include:

2. Mastoiditis

If you develop an ear infection and don’t get treatment, you may develop a more serious infection of the ear called mastoiditis.

This infection develops in the bony protrusion behind the ear, which is called the mastoid. It may cause pus-filled cysts to develop. In turn, you may feel those as lumps or knots behind your ear.

3. Abscess

An abscess develops when tissue or cells in an area of the body become infected. Your body responds to the infection by trying to kill off the invading bacteria or virus. To fight the bacteria, your body sends white blood cells to the infected areas.

These white blood cells begin accumulating in the damaged location and as a result, pus begins to develop. Pus is a thick, fluid-like product that develops from dead white bloods cells, tissue, bacteria, and other invading substances. Abscesses are often painful and warm to the touch.

4. Otitis media

Otis media is another term for an ear infection. These can be bacterial or viral. When an infection occurs, it can cause painful fluid buildup and swelling. These symptoms may result in visible swelling behind the ear. Antibiotics may be used to ease the symptoms and to end the infection.

5. Lymphadenopathy (secondary to ear or throat infections)

Lymphadenopathy begins in your lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are tiny, organ-like structures that are present throughout your body. This includes under your arms, in your neck, in your pelvis, and behind your ears.

From time to time, your lymph nodes will swell. In many cases, the swelling is the result of an infection. As the number of infection-fighting cells grows, they will begin to build up in the lymph nodes. Swollen lymph nodes are commonly caused by infection, inflammation, or cancer.

6. Sebaceous cysts

Sebaceous cysts are noncancerous bumps that arise beneath the skin. They most commonly develop on the head, neck, and torso.

This type of cyst develops around the sebaceous gland, which is responsible for producing oil that lubricates your skin and hair. Most sebaceous cysts cause little to no pain. They may be uncomfortable or irritating because of where they develop on your body.

7. Acne vulgaris

Acne is a common skin condition that occurs when hair follicles in the skin become clogged. Dead skin cells and oil can clog the follicles and then pimples and bumps may develop. In certain cases, these bumps will grow to be large, solid, and sometimes painful.

8. Lipoma

A lipoma is a fatty lump that develops between the layers of your skin. A lipoma can develop anywhere on your body, and it’s almost always harmless.

Lipomas are not always detectable from the skin’s surface, but as they grow larger, it’s more likely that you’ll be able to feel them with your hand.

Identifying lumps behind the ears

If you have a history of acne, it may be easy for you to diagnose a lump or bump behind your ear as a pimple. But for other people, figuring out what’s causing the raised area may be trickier.

How to self-check

Your hand is your best tool for detecting lumps or bumps behind your ears. Below are a few questions you can ask yourself:

  • Does the lump feel soft and pliable? If so, it’s probably a lipoma.
  • Is the spot tender and painful, especially when touched? Then it could be a pimple or an abscess.
  • In addition to the bump, are you experiencing other symptoms, such as fever or chills? In that case, the lump could be another sign of an infection.

When to see a doctor

If the lump is problematic, causing you pain or discomfort, or associated with other symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor. You can connect to a physician in your area using the Healthline FindCare tool. A quick physical inspection of the area and a general checkup can usually help your doctor figure out exactly what is happening behind your ear.

Based on what your doctor finds, they may suggest leaving the lump to resolve on its own, or any number of treatments, from medication to surgery.

Lumps behind the ear usually aren’t harmful. Together with your doctor, you can find the best way to eliminate the lump and prevent future problems.

Sours: https://www.healthline.com/health/causes-lumps-behind-ears

Ear pimple behind

Have you ever felt an itchy sensation behind your ear, only to feel a painful lump? An inflamed lump (or a pimple) behind your ear could be the result of an infection in your skin pores.

In most cases, pimples behind ears are not a matter of concern. However, they can get quite painful and need extra care and treatment. In this article we have listed certain home remedies that can help treat those painful little lumps behind your ears.

What Causes Pimples Behind Ears?

Pimples occur when the skin pores get clogged by dead cells and are infected by microbes.

Other factors that may contribute to this condition include:

  • Poor hygiene habits
  • Excessively dry or humid weather conditions
  • Friction due to spectacles
  • Ingrown hair
  • Ear piercing
  • Comedogenic cosmetics
  • Diet (sugary foods, especially, which can aggravate acne)

Pimples behind your ears can be quite painful, and you would want to treat them quickly. Though medical attention could be important in certain cases, the following home remedies may help supplement your treatment. Make sure you consult your doctor to understand which remedy may work for you.

Home Remedies To Treat Pimples Behind Ears

1. Cold Compress

Studies show that repeated application of an ice pack/cold compress helps treat inflammation. It can achieve this by constantly drawing out heat from the skin (1). This can help reduce inflammation behind the ear.


You Will Need

A cold compress

What You Have To Do
  1. Apply the cold compress to your acne lesion and hold it there for at least 5 minutes.
  2. Remove and repeat three times in short, regular intervals.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 3 times daily.

2. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil possesses antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties (2). These properties may help fight the microbes that cause the pimples.

You Will Need
  • 5% tea tree oil
  • Cotton swabs
What You Have To Do
  1. Dip a cotton swab in 5% tea tree oil.
  2. Apply it to your pimple and leave it on overnight.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this once daily.

3. Egg White And Honey

Anecdotal evidence suggests that egg whites reduce the size of skin pores and tighten the skin. This could help improve skin appearance. Honey has antibacterial properties (3). These properties may help fight the pimple-causing bacteria.

You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon of egg white
  • ½ teaspoon of honey (optional)
What You Have To Do
  1. Blend a teaspoon of egg white.
  2. Add half a teaspoon of honey and blend again.
  3. Apply this mixture to the affected area and leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Wash off with water.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 2-3 times daily.

4. Yogurt And Oatmeal

Oatmeal has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (4). It was found to be useful in treating acne eruptions. Though more studies are needed to understand the efficacy of oatmeal in this regard, you may use it for pimple treatment.

Yogurt contains probiotics that may help reduce acne (5).

You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon of yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon of oatmeal
  • ½ teaspoon of honey (optional)
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix a teaspoon each of yogurt and oatmeal. You can also add a little honey to the mixture.
  2. Apply the paste directly to the pimple.
  3. Leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this once daily.

5. Garlic

Garlic contains antimicrobial properties (6). These may help fight the pimple-causing bacteria and soothe the infected skin.

You Will Need

A minced garlic clove

What You Have To Do
  1. Apply minced garlic directly to the pimple behind the ear.
  2. Initially, leave it on for 20 minutes and then wash off. After a week or so, you may leave it on overnight.
  3. Those with sensitive skin may dilute the minced garlic with some water before application.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this once daily.

6. Citrus Juice

All citrus fruits are rich sources of vitamin C. Applying citrus juice to your pimple can help reduce inflammation and protect against the pimple-causing bacteria (7).

You Will Need
  • A few drops of any citrus fruit juice (juice of orange, lemon, or lime)
  • Cotton swab
What You Have To Do
  1. Soak a cotton swab in the citrus fruit juice.
  2. Gently press it to your pimple.
  3. Leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes before washing it off with lukewarm water.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 1 to 2 times daily.

These remedies may help treat the pimples behind your ears. But if your condition persists, consult a doctor immediately. In the following section, we have discussed what you can do to prevent the recurrence of pimples behind the ears.

Prevention Tips

  • Do not pop the pimple as this will aggravate the infection.
  • Follow good hygiene.
  • Scrub your skin once a week to prevent ingrown hair.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Follow a well-balanced diet.
  • Reduce your intake of sugar and processed foods.

These prevention tips can help promote overall skin health. The remedies discussed in the article may offer relief, but none of them are backed by concrete scientific research.

When To See A Doctor

If the pimples grow larger and become more painful, please visit your healthcare provider immediately. Test for any underlying condition and ask for the prescribed medications. Prompt action can help resolve the issue at the earliest.

Pimples behind the ears, most often, do not pose any serious threat. The right treatment can help ease the pain and symptoms in a matter of days. But should your symptoms persist or get worse, ensure you visit your nearest hospital. In some rare cases, these little lumps could be a sign of an underlying condition.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does shampoo cause acne?

If the shampoo you use is comedogenic, it may clog your skin pores. This can lead to acne lesions over time.


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Check out our editorial policy for further details.

  • Acute effects of cold therapy on knee skin surface temperature: gel pack versus ice bag, BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  • Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties, Clinical Microbiology Reviews, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  • Honey: its medicinal property and antibacterial activity, Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  • Oatmeal in dermatology: a brief review. Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  • The effect of probiotics on immune regulation, acne, and photoaging, International Journal of Women’s Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  • Investigating Antibacterial Effects of Garlic (Allium sativum) Concentrate and Garlic-Derived Organosulfur Compounds on Campylobacter jejuni by Using Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy, Raman Spectroscopy, and Electron Microscopy, Applied and Environmental Biology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  • Role of Vitamin C in Skin Diseases, Frontiers in Physiology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

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Shaheen holds a postgraduate degree in Human Genetics and Molecular Biology. She is a Geneticist with proficiency in Biotechnology, Immunology, Medical Genetics, Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Genetic Counseling. Her passion for writing and her educational background have assisted her substantially in writing quality content on topics related to health and wellness. In her free time, Shaheen loves to explore the world and the different flavors/cuisines it has to offer. Photography is another hobby she has developed of late.

Sours: https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/simple-ways-to-take-care-of-pimples-behind-ears/
Ear Blackhead extractions. Multiple techniques used for deep embedded dry plugs and cyst pops.

Discovering a new lump or bump anywhere on your skin can be frightening. When located behind the ear, those bumps could be anything from an infection, such as mastoiditis, to a simple or sever allergic reaction, such as dermatitis. Only your doctor can diagnose you properly and prescribe the appropriate treatment.


According to the government’s Medline Plus website, ear infections can sometimes cause the mastoid bone—located behind your ear—to become infected. This condition is most common in children. When it occurs, the area behind the ear swells and results in a visible protrusion. This protrusion may be as small as a fingertip or as large as a plum. Additional symptoms include fever, hearing loss, ear redness and ear pain. Doctors treat this infection with repeated doses of antibiotics.


One particular type of dermatitis—known as seborrheic dermatitis—often occurs behind the ears. The Merck Manual website notes that seborrheic dermatitis causes scaly pimples to form; these pimples can be yellow or red in color. Scientists don’t know exactly what causes dermatitis. They do know it rarely affects teenagers, is more likely to affect men, worsens with low temperatures and may be hereditary. To treat it, doctors may prescribe topical corticosteroids to loosen the scales and dissolve the bumps.

Lymph Nodes

Your small bumps behind the ears might be a case of swollen lymph nodes. According to the government’s Medline Plus website, your lymph nodes belong to your immune system. They’re found throughout your body, including behind your ears, in your armpit and in your groin. When you develop infections such as tonsillitis, mono, a cold or a flu, your lymph nodes might swell up to the point where you can feel them. Your lymph nodes may remain swollen for days or weeks after the infection. In rare cases, cancers and tumors can also cause lymph node swelling.

  • Treatments

    Because the causes of rash-like skin bumps are so diverse, you should not attempt to treat them yourself. If, for example, you believe you have dermatitis and apply a steroid cream, it won’t help if your bumps are caused by lymph node swelling or mastitis. While it’s acceptable to watch and wait for a few days, to note the changes and colors present in your bumps, you should call your doctor and describe your symptoms to him/her. The doctor may be able to suggest a course of treatment over the phone or may request you make an office visit for a firmer diagnosis.


    In some cases, bumps behind your ears may indicate serious conditions such as lymphoma or leukemia. These cancers can cause swollen lymph nodes, which you may feel as bumps behind your ear before other symptoms emerge. If the bumps aren’t painful but persist long after a routine infection such as a cough or cold, see your doctor. Medline Plus notes that painful bumps often indicate active lymph nodes fighting an infection; visible bumps without pain may be symptoms of a systemic condition such as Hodgkin’s Disease that requires immediate treatment.




    Jenni Wiltz

    Medline Plus website

    The Merck Manual website


    Photo by Slyadnyev Oleksandr from Fotolia.com

Sours: https://www.a-atlantichearing.com/why-do-i-suddenly-have-little-bumps-behind-my-ears/

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When a Lump Appears Behind the Ear: What Could It Mean?

Lumps can form all around the body. Most of the time, they are harmless (benign). If you find a lump behind your ear, it might seem odd, but most lumps in this spot are easy to treat and do not cause any long-term problems.

Some of the most common causes of lumps behind the ear are infections and skin conditions. Less often, tumors can form behind the ear. Here's how to tell what the lump behind your ear might mean, how the condition can be treated, and when you should see a doctor.

What Counts as a Lump Behind the Ear?

A lump is a small- to medium-sized bump. A lump behind the ear can develop anywhere between the top of the ear down to the lobe. The lumps can feel soft or hard.

If you have a lump behind your ear, it might be tender or painful. Some lumps do not cause any discomfort.

What Causes a Lump Behind the Ear?

A lump can form behind the ear for several reasons. The most common causes of a lump in this spot are infections and skin conditions. Less frequently, tumors can develop here.


You might notice a lump behind your ear when you get sick. If you catch strep throat or an ear infection, the lymph nodes behind your ears can become swollen and inflamed.

Other common infections can also cause swollen lymph nodes, such as:

  • Abscessed or impacted teeth
  • Gum disease
  • Influenza or other upper respiratory infections
  • Lyme disease (an illness caused by a bacterium carried by ticks)
  • Mononucleosis (an infection caused by a herpes virus)
  • Oral herpes (an infection of the herpes simplex virus)
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Tonsillitis (inflammation of the tonsils in the back of the throat)

Serious Infections

Skin infections can also cause lymph node swelling. In some cases, infected skin can lead to a growth called an abscess, which looks like a large pimple.

Mastoiditis, a bacterial infection affecting the mastoid bone behind the ear, can also cause a lump. This condition usually results from an untreated middle ear infection that spreads to the mastoid bone.

Other symptoms of mastoiditis include:

  • Ear drainage
  • Ear pain
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Redness around the ear
  • Trouble hearing

Skin Conditions

If you have certain skin conditions, you might feel some lumps or bumps in the space behind your ear. Pimples, cysts, and lipomas can all occur in this area.


Acne is a common skin condition that produces pimples. Acne can appear in many parts of the body, but the face is the most common site. Pimples can also develop behind the ears.

Over-the-counter (OTC) acne creams and face washes may help treat mild acne. More severe acne may require prescription-strength medication. A pimple can also become infected. Try not to scratch or touch pimples to reduce the chances of infection.


Lipomas are a type of skin growth. The fatty lumps of tissue are not hard and can be moved around under the skin. They can form in various parts of the body, including behind the ears.

Lipomas are harmless but can cause discomfort. You usually do not need to treat a lipoma unless it is bothering you. In this case, you can have it removed.


Cysts are made up of dead skin cells and oils. They will feel soft to the touch and often go away on their own. 

Cysts are not usually painful unless they become infected. If this happens, antibiotics may be necessary. If a cyst causes discomfort or is likely to cause problems because of where it is located, it might need to be removed.

Benign or Malignant Tumors

Tumors that form behind the ear can be harmless (benign) or cancerous (malignant). However, cancerous tumors behind the ear are not common.

If you have a lump behind your ear and your healthcare provider wants to rule out cancer, they will usually need to perform a biopsy, a procedure that involves removing a sample of tissue to examine it more closely.

Bumps that are cancerous have several characteristics that make them different from harmless, more common lumps. Malignant lumps are more likely to:

  • Be fixed in place
  • Be uneven or irregular in shape
  • Feel hard

Pain and discomfort are not necessarily indicators of a cancerous tumor. Some lumps that are harmless can hurt, while some malignant lumps do not cause any pain.

When to See a Doctor

If you find a lump behind your ear, you might be wondering if you need to seek medical attention for it. While most lumps behind your ear are not serious, there are some cases for which you should have a doctor take a look.

You should see a doctor if the lump behind your ear:

  • Appears out of nowhere
  • Is accompanied by other symptoms
  • Is painful or causes discomfort 

When you go to the doctor for a lump behind your ear, they will do a simple examination. They will ask you questions about the lump—such as when you first noticed it—to figure out what is causing it.

Sometimes, the lump behind your ear will be a swollen lymph node. If this is the case, you should go to the doctor if:

  • It is swollen, red, and painful.
  • It feels hard.
  • If it gets bigger or does not reduce in size after several weeks.
  • You have other unexplained symptoms such as fever, night sweats, or weight loss.

If you have swollen lymph nodes with these other symptoms, your doctor wish to perform some blood tests, a biopsy, or a computed tomography (CT) scan to help make the correct diagnosis.


Most infections that cause a lump behind the ear will go away on their own. For example, a mild ear infection that causes swollen lymph nodes may resolve on its own. However, bacterial infections will require antibiotic treatment. 

Some skin conditions that can cause lumps behind the ears are easily treated with OTC or prescription medications. Other skin lumps, like cysts or lipomas, might need to be removed.

In the case of tumors, treatment depends on whether the tumor is benign or malignant. In most cases, surgery will be required to remove the tumor. The bigger the tumor, the more complex the surgery will be.


A lump behind the ear can have several possible causes, many of which are not serious. However, if the lump hurts, gets bigger, or is accompanied by other symptoms, it should be checked out by a doctor.

A Word From Verywell

If you find a lump behind your ear, you may not know what it is. Lumps can form anywhere on the body, including behind your ear. Most of the time, the cause is something that is not serious and that will get better on its own or with minimal treatment.

In rare cases, tumors can form behind the ear and require complex treatment. If you have a lump behind your ear and other symptoms, particularly if they show up suddenly, it's important to tell your doctor. They can determine what is causing it and decide on the best course of treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What counts as a lump behind the ear? 

A lump behind the ear is any raised bump, lump, or nodule. 

What causes a lump behind the ear? 

A lump may form behind the ear for several reasons, including infection, a skin condition, or a tumor.

How do I make a lump behind my ear go away? 

Most of the time, a lump will go away on its own. If a lump is not going away or is getting bigger, you should seek medical attention. If you have a skin infection and the redness and swelling get worse, you should see a doctor for treatment.

How can I tell if the lump behind my ear is cancerous? 

A cancerous (malignant) lump is more likely to be hard or irregular in shape than a lump that is harmless (benign). The only way to know for sure is to see your doctor and have them perform tests, such as a biopsy, to rule out cancer.

What type of doctor should I see for a lump behind my ear? 

Conditions involving the ears are best addressed by an otolaryngologist, an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist. If you think the lump is caused by a skin condition, you should see a dermatologist. 

Thanks for your feedback!

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Mount Sinai. Swollen lymph nodes.

  2. Michigan Medicine. Swollen glands, hernias, and lumps under the skin. Reviewed February 26, 2020.

  3. MedlinePlus. Mastoiditis. Updated May 4, 2021.

  4. MedlinePlus. Acne. Updated January 26, 2021.

  5. Cleveland Clinic. Lipoma. Reviewed October 13, 2020.

  6. MedlinePlus. Benign ear cyst or tumor. Updated May 4, 2021.

  7. Cedars Sinai. Ear and temporal bone cancer.

Sours: https://www.verywellhealth.com/lump-behind-the-ear-possible-causes-explained-5185234

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