Why Do I Have A Hard Lump Behind My Ear?

A lump behind your ear can sometime be a little frightening if you do not know the exact cause. Some of these causes aren`t threatening or require only simple solutions, while other ones need medical assistance. This is why it is essential to have it check out and find out what treatment you need.

Lump Behind My Ear

What Are Lumps behind the Ear?

A lump behind the ear is a swollen area and its name depends on what type of lump is or what causes it. For instance, it could be a cyst, nodule, tumor or abscess. Below you`ll find a few most the most common types, as well as basic information on symptoms, causes or treatments.


What are the signs of lumps behind the ear? If you experience a lump behind your ear, the signs may include:

  • Soft lumps behind your ear.
  • Fever/chills for more severe cyst infections.
  • Pain from a cyst that is infected.
  • Pimples or bumps if you particularly have a history involving acne.

How do you find out you have a lump or cyst behind the ears? If you experienced acne from time to time, it`s not hard to detect a lump behind your ear. For all the other people who didn`t go through such experience, it may prove to be difficult to figure it out whether they have a zit or bump behind their ear.

It`s a rather natural instinct to use your own hands and figure it out whether there`s any bump behind your ears. How do they feel? Do they hurt or feel painful when touched? They may take the shape of an abscess or pimple.

Additionally, if these lumps hurt and end up with chills, it may be a cyst behind your ear involved.

Read more: Why Do I Get Back Pain During My Period?

Causes of Cysts behind the Ear

Although lumps may not be dangerous at all, they should be taken into consideration. A cyst behind an ear can be cause by cancer, allergic reaction, bone tumors or infections.

You`ll find below a few medical conditions which may lead to the development of lumps behind ears.


Swollen glands frequently grow when your body tries to fight infections caused by small cuts, colds or bites from insects. More severe infections might cause these glands to increase and turn into tender, firm and hard-at-touch glands.

Bacterial infections, like:

  • An abscess (boil), like a big pimple. This might grow when a follicle of skin or hair gets infected. A sweat gland abscess might develop one or several bumps in the armpit which may seem like abscesses.
  • Strep throat, which is the result of the streptococcus bacterium.

Viral infections, like:

  • A viral skin infection, also known as molluscum contagiosum), which will cause flesh colored or tiny pearly lumps.
  • Mumps, measles, chickenpox, or rubella.
  • AIDS, which will develop in the final stage of human immunodeficiency virus infection. This particular virus will attack the human immunity, making it very hard for the human body to fight against infections or other illnesses.
  • Mononucleosis or cytomegalovirus – these 2 viruses lead to sore throat, fatigue and fever.

Other types of infections, like:

  • Syphilis, an STD.
  • Lyme disease, which a type of infection which is generally spread by particular types of ticks.

Noncancerous Growths

Various types of growths that are noncancerous, which aren`t generally dangerous, may include:

  • Lipoma: a smooth bump in shape of a dome which moves easily under the skin.
  • Inflammation: a soft bump, similar to a cyst, on the wrist`s front or back.
  • Salivary gland issue: like an inflammation, tumor, infection or salivary stone.
  • Cyst: a sac filled with fluid which sometime may hurt. It can be a ganglion, cystic lesion, branchial cleft cyst or epidermal cyst (also known as sebaceous cyst).


Abscesses grow when cells or tissue in a particular body area gets infected. The body responds to this infection by attempting to destroy the invading virus or bacteria. To fight it, the body will send white blood cells to that specific area. These cells start accumulating in the infected location and pus starts to develop as a result. – Click here!

Pus represents a product similar to fluid, thick, which occurs from white blood cells that are dead, bacteria, tissue, as well as other substances. Abscesses are frequently warm or painful when touched.

Also read: Do You Gain Weight During Period?

Swelling Caused by Cancer

A bump which is the result of cancer is generally pretty hard, deep fixed in the tissue and with an irregular shape. Although these don`t generally cause any pain, some cancerous bumps are quite painful. However, most of them aren`t caused by cancer.

Acne Vulgaris

Acne represents quite a frequently encountered condition of the skin which happens when follicles of hair become clogged. Oil and dead cells of the skin may clog these follicles and then bumps and pimples might develop. In particular situations, these lumps will develop to be solid and large, sometimes even painful.

Otitis Media

Otis media is the medical term for ear infection. These can either be viral or bacterial. When an infection happens, it may lead to swelling and even painful buildup or fluid. These particular signs might lead to noticeable swelling behind your ear. Antibiotics might be taken to relieve your signs as well as to end your infection. – Read this!

Sebaceous Cysts

A tiny cyst behind your ear may be the result of a non-cancerous bump which has the tendency of rising beneath your skin. Epidermoid cysts don`t cause any pain most of the time and causes no issue at all, so they don`t require treatment. Still, if such a cyst seems to bother you or you feel pain, you`ll have the option of having it removed by surgery.


A lipoma represents a fatty bump which grows between the skin layers. Lipomas may grow just about anywhere, and it is almost all the time totally harmless. Lipomas aren`t always easy to find, but as they become bigger, you`ll most definitely be able to feel them by hand.


If you may develop an infection to your ear and don`t follow treatment, you might develop a more severe infection known as mastoiditis. This particular infection may grow in the body protrusion behind your ear, known as the mastoid. It might lead to cysts filled with pus. In turn, you might feel those as knots or lumps hind the ear.


Another cause of cyst behind the ear may involve dermatitis. This includes an accumulation of dry skin or waxy dead cells which generally is associated with redness, infection or inflammation. Although this is more common in men than women, the real cause of dermatitis isn`t exactly clear yet. It may involve a genetic disorder and has a tendency to be active when low temperatures are involved.

Other Causes

Swelling might also be caused by:

  • A negative effect of a drug, like phenytoin.
  • Other illness or conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or chronic fatigue syndrome.

When to Contact the Doctor?

Always ask your doctor to take a look at your lump! This is a lot safer than trying to make the diagnosis yourself.

Even if you have a good basic knowledge, doing your diagnosis yourself could lead you to making mistakes. Your doctor is also in a position to aid treat these issues that he finds.

It`s also very important to have it checked out if:

  • It chances or it increases in size.
  • It comes with more general signs.
  • It`s tender, painful or has a particular discharge.
  • It occurs all of the sudden.
  • It`s feels attached.

Lumps don`t occur so frequently because of cancer. However, it`s worth it getting it check to rule this cause out.

If your lump involves a tumor, an immediate diagnosis is essential to increases your chances of a successful treatment. If the lump is cancerous, it`s most likely a soft tissue sarcoma.

Tests & Diagnosis

The doctor will mostly do a diagnosis based on looking and feeling the lump. He`ll ask various questions, like how the signs came on or how long they have lasted. They`ll refer to the medical history of the patient as well.

Most bumps are diagnosed by taking a look at the patient`s history and examination. Less likely, a bump requires more investigation. This might involve being done an imaging test or taking samples of its contents for analysis.

Image courtesy of quora.com

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