Finding a lump anywhere on your body can be a scary experience. If you find a lump behind your ear, take some comfort in the fact that most causes are benign and easily treatable, if they require treatment at all.
In certain cases, a lump behind the ear could indicate a more serious condition. Let’s examine some of the possible causes as well as treatment options for lumps behind the ear, and when to seek medical attention.
Could a Lump Behind the Ear Be Cancer?
When you feel a lump on your body, it’s easy to assume the worst and imagine that it is cancer. Tumors do form behind the ear, and they can be benign or malignant. The good news is that behind the ear is not a common spot to find cancerous tumors. However, you should still make an appointment with your doctor if you are concerned that it may be cancer. In general, malignant lumps are more likely to be:
- Fixed in place (immovable)
- Uneven or irregular in shape
In addition to benign tumors, there are several other non-cancerous growths that can cause a lump behind the ear. Some examples include:
Acne can usually be treated by over-the-counter topical creams. Lipomas are completely harmless but can cause discomfort. If it bothers you, you can have it removed. Cysts often go away on their own but may require treatment if they become infected.
Infections That Can Cause a Lump Behind an Ear
One common cause is an infection that causes the lymph nodes behind your ears to become swollen and inflamed. A variety of infections can cause your lymph nodes to swell, including:
- Strep throat
- Cold or flu
- Infected tooth
- Lyme disease
More serious infections can cause glands to enlarge and become firm, hard and tender. If you notice any of these symptoms accompanied by a fever and/or redness you should see your doctor. You may need antibiotics to treat the infection.
In many cases, whatever infection caused a lump behind your ear will go away on its own. In other cases, a few days of rest, antibiotics and a pint of your favorite flavor from Craft Creamery might be needed to recover.
In rare cases, a lump behind the ear can be indicative of a serious bacterial infection called mastoiditis. This affects the mastoid bone and is usually the result of an untreated ear infection. Symptoms of mastoiditis include swelling, redness, and tenderness of the ear lobe and area behind the ear as well as drainage of fluids from the ear and fever. It can lead to serious and potentially life-threatening complications if left untreated. See a doctor immediately if you exhibit any symptoms of mastoiditis.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Texas ENT & Allergy today.