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Causes, Treatments, and Pictures of Lumps Behind the Ear

Updated on April 27, 2016


A lump growth is a localized swelling in any portion of the body and is a common problem among people. The growth of the lump can be harmless to some individual while it can be a symptom of something more serious medical condition to others. It could come in small size or grow bigger depending on the nature and cause of the lump.

Many potential causes can be attributed to the development of a lump. The growth can be from infection, trauma, benign cyst, tumor and cancers. The lump can develop rapidly and may or may not change in size. It can also be found in single or multiple growths while it can be gentle and firm. Lump can also be painful to some or painless to others and whatever the characteristic of lump that grew depends on the cause and location of the lump.

The onset of the lump can be categorized according to its etiology such as the following:

  • A lump can be congenital or acquired
  • Traumatic
  • Acute or chronic inflammation
  • A neoplasm that can be benign or malignant
  • Other factors are also considered in the etiology of lump such as hormonal changes

The swelling may be harmless but the sudden growth may need a medical attention to identify its nature and significance in an existing underlying condition as the growth may signal something more serious. A thorough examination may be needed to clearly specify the nature of the lump that is growing. Initial step in examining a lump is through inspection and palpation to gather information as to the nature of the lump itself. The size, location, shape and consistency of the lump are all noted and taken into consideration when doing the exam. Large sized lump may require auscultation to identify some murmur or bruit that may signify arterial aneurysms and vascular goiters.

The area behind the ear is one common site of the lump to rise and may cause alarm to many especially if the swelling is painful. The size of the lump behind the ear can grow big or small, painless or painful and may be hard or soft. Irrespective of the characteristic of the lump behind the ear, it is advisable to seek consultation with healthcare professionals.



Lump behind the ear can occur due to an assortment of reasons. The size and consistency may also vary and can either be painless or painful. Whether harmless or not, lump behind the ear can be alarming and discomforting.

Lymph nodes that are swollen are the most common cause of lump behind the ear. It is quite common when there is an existence of infected wounds. The lymph nodes are located throughout the body and belong in the immune system. The lymph nodes function in warding off infection and removing cellular waste from the body. Swollen lymph nodes are generally harmless and resolve within a few days but a swollen lymph node that develops rapidly and is rather hard and immovable may be due to some serious condition such as cancer.

Mastoiditis is an infection of the mastoid bone from an infected ear. The incidence of mastoiditis can cause the portion behind the ear to swell and the affected skin to protrude. The visible protrusion can have a size as small as a fingertip and as large as a plum.

Sebaceous cyst is a skin inflammation that resulted from a skin wound or an ingrown of hair follicle. Sebaceous cyst contains keratin which is characterized as a yellowish or cheesy protein that has a foul smell. It is usually harmless and painful and resolved within a few days without the need for any medical intervention.

Malignant neoplastic disease is the most serious case of lump behind the ears. The onset of lump behind the ear is usually a symptom of cancer growth in the neck and the head. Salivary gland cancer is also a serious cause of lump behind the ear.


Treating lumps behind the ear depend on the cause and severity of the condition. Lump growth due to a sebaceous cyst can be treated with acne removal medicine and some home remedies. Lump behind the ear that resulted from swollen lymph nodes can be treated with pain relievers and the rest is directed toward the cure of the underlying condition that contributed to its growth. Other treatment for lump behind the ears is directed to other underlying conditions that resulted in its growth such as in the case of mastoiditis and cancer.

It is beneficial to receive the lump behind the ears to be examined by a professional health practitioner for prompt diagnosis and treatment.


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