Bump Behind Ear

Question:

I found a lump behind ear, on the left side a few days ago. It is painful and is not moveable. There is a whitish pus-like content that is oozing out of it, and it is not very pretty. I think it is a swollen lymph node or a boil. What do you think is the cause of this bump behind ear could be?

Answer:

It Can be a Blister due to Ear Infection. A localized, swollen area behind the ear is referred to as an ear lump. Ear lumps can be big, small, painful or painless. Most often, pus filled, painful bump can be due to a boil or blister. Blisters on the ears can be due to several causes. For one, it can be an infection. When your ear gets infected blisters or boils can occur in the outer ear or the ear canal. Ear infections are very common in small children. This can be due to respiratory infections, as the ear canal tubes are often clogged with infected mucus which drift from the connecting throat canal. This alters the ear pressure and cause intense pain in the ears. Antibiotics are usually prescribed for ear infections. As intense pain is also a common symptom of ear infections, you may also be prescribed ibuprofen or other pain relieving medications.

How are Swollen Lymph Nodes Treated?

A bump behind ear can also be due to swollen lymph nodes. Swollen lymph nodes are also caused by ear infections, tonsillitis, sore throat or other types of infections. Lymph nodes play an important role in the fight against infections and diseases. They are a vital part of the immune system. Swollen lymph nodes are a result of the inflammation that takes place when the body is fighting the disease. Lymph nodes, when swollen, can be extremely tender and painful. The symptoms will depend on the location and cause of the lymph nodes. Medical attention will be necessary if the lymph nodes are hard, growing rapidly or lasts longer than two weeks accompanied by weight loss, night sweats and fever. Pain relievers and antibiotics and antiviral medication will help relieve symptoms of swollen lymph nodes.

What about Cysts?

There are several causes for a cyst behind ear. A cyst usually contains accumulated dead cells that form in a lump or bulge. These cysts can occur anywhere in the body. A cyst behind ear can be caused due to excess oil secretion of the sebaceous glands, extensive exposure to cold environments, blocked sebaceous gland or hair follicle, or it can be caused due to heredity. Cysts are usually not painful and are slow-growing. However, if the cyst becomes infected, it can cause severe pain. Normally, cysts behind the ear do not require any medical treatment. Infected cysts, though, will require medication.

What are some Serious Causes of this Lump?

The most serious cause for a lump behind ear is cancer. If you feel a white bump behind ear on the outside, that oozes, it could be due to cancer. A bump inside the ear canal will not be noticed till secretion of puss and pain manifests. Persistent ear infections too can be due to cancer. Therefore, an ENT specialist should be consulted when a bump or secretion is detected. Basal skin carcinoma and squamous cell cancer are the two most common ear cancers. A painless lump behind the ear or an ulcer in the middle of the lump can be an indication of basal skin carcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma is more likely to spread as it develops deeper in the ear. Hearing loss and facial paralysis are indications of a metastasized cancer of the temporal lobe.

If you feel a bump behind the ear that has been there for a number of weeks, you should not ignore it and hope it will disappear. Seeking medical advice will mean you will be able to diagnose what is causing your lump and such early detection means early treatment that helps avoid complications.