In most cases, the lump behind the ear does not cause any kind of pain, itching or discomfort, so it is usually not a sign of something problematic and is a result of more simple causes like acne or a benign cyst.
However, the lump may also arise due to local infections, which need further attention and proper treatment. Therefore, if the lump causes pain, takes a long time to disappear, has a very irregular shape or increases in size, it is very important to see a dermatologist or general practitioner to identify the cause and start treatment.
As indicated earlier, the lump behind the ear can come from several sources:
Lumps behind the ear may be caused by throat or neck infections such as pharyngitis, colds, flu, mononucleosis, otitis, conjunctivitis, herpes, cavities, gingivitis, or measles, for example. This is due to inflammation of the region's lymph nodes, which may increase in size as the body fights the infection.
When this happens, it is important not to move the swelling site to facilitate recovery as the ganglia slowly return to their original size as the underlying infection is treated.
Mastoiditis is an infection in the bone behind the ear, which can occur after an ear infection, especially if it is not treated well, and may lead to a bulge.
This problem is more common in children under the age of 2, but can occur at any age, accompanied by other symptoms such as headache, hearing ability decreased, and liquid released through the ear, for example.
If you suffer from acne, the pores of your skin may become blocked due to excess sebum production by the sebaceous glands located at the base of the hair follicle, which mixes with skin cells, and this mixture forms a pimple that can swell and become painful.
Although it is rarer, acne can also affect the skin behind the ear, leading to the appearance of a lump that may disappear on its own.
4. Sebaceous cyst
The sebaceous cyst is a type of lump that forms under the skin, which is composed of a substance called sebum, which can appear in any region of the body. It is usually soft to the touch, can move when touched or pressed, and usually does not hurt unless it becomes inflamed, tender and reddening, making it painful, and a dermatologist may need to have minor surgery to remove the cyst.
The soft, rounded lump on the skin may also be a lipoma, a type of benign tumor composed of fat cells, which must also be removed through surgery or liposuction.
Lipoma is a type of lump that can cause no pain or other symptoms, consisting of an accumulation of fat cells that can appear anywhere on the body and grow slowly.
What differentiates the lipoma from a sebaceous cyst is its constitution. The lipoma is composed of adipose cells and the sebaceous cyst is composed of sebum. However, the treatment is always the same, and consists of surgery to remove the fibrous capsule.
6. Swollen lymph nodes
Lymph nodes, are spread throughout the body, and when they become enlarged, it usually indicates an infection or inflammation of the region where it arises, and may also arise due to autoimmune diseases, use of medication or even cancer of the body. head, neck or lymphoma, for example.
Generally, swollen lymph nodes tend to have benign and transient causes, being a few millimeters in diameter and disappearing over a period of about 3 to 30 days. However, if they continue to grow, last longer than 30 days or are accompanied by weight loss and fever, it is important to see your doctor for proper treatment.
When to go to the doctor
You should see your doctor if the lump behind the ear suddenly appears, remains fixed and doesn't move when you touch it, persists for a long time, or if accompanied by signs and symptoms such as:
- Pain and redness;
- Increase in size;
- Change of form;
- Release of pus or other liquid;
- Difficulty moving the head or neck;
- Difficulty swallowing.
In such cases, the doctor may perform a physical evaluation of the lump based on its appearance and reaction to the touch, as well as an evaluation of other symptoms such as fever and the chills, which may indicate infection. If the lump is painful, it may be a sign of an abscess or pimple.
Treatment depends largely on the origin of the lump and may disappear without any treatment, or you may need to take antibiotics in cases of infection, or even surgery for lipomas and sebaceous cysts.