What Causes Bump Behind Ear?

It is always a little disturbing whenever you can feel a lump anywhere in your body. Lumps are not supposed to be there so you know something could be wrong. A bump behind ear can be caused by an infection called mastoiditis or an allergic reaction known as dermatitis. The best way to know what kind of condition is causing the hard lump behind ear, is to have it seen by a doctor.

Lump behind ear is not always dangerous like a symptom of cancer. There are many and varied reasons that can result to the formation of a hard lump behind ear, and it can be naturally painful.

Most people get worried the moment they feel a bump behind ear; a lump may occur on one ear or on both. Lumps behind the ear may have specific or common symptoms but mostly, they do not develop to be more than pea-sized. These lumps can move and be painful to the touch; hard or tender, and they can also disappear even without treatment.

The bumps actually may come and go undetected unless they become painful. When this happens, try not to panic and avoid picking at them. You might think they are just pimples, but if you are not sure, do not squeeze. Doing so may only increase the likelihood of getting it infected.


Mastoiditis is an ear infection that occurs when the mastoid bone behind the ear gets infected. This is a very common condition in children. When you have mastoiditis, there will be initial swelling behind the ear and this will result in a protrusion that will turn into lump behind ear.

Symptoms of Mastoiditis include fever, loss of hearing, pain inside the ear and eye redness. A good and complete course of the right antibiotics will treat this condition well.


There are many types of dermatitis; the one that occurs behind the ear is known as seborrheic dermatitis. This skin allergy results in the appearance of scaly pimples that will turn either red or yellow in color. The cause of dermatitis is not yet specified, but it affects men more than women and it is believed to be hereditary. Topical creams containing corticosteroids will help loosen the scaly pimples and will dissolve the lump behind ear.

Lymph Nodes:

A bump behind ear can be a swollen lymph node. Lymph nodes are part of the immune system and they can be found all over the body like behind the ear, in the armpits and in the genitals. Infections such as tonsillitis, cold or flu can cause swollen lymph nodes. A swollen lymph node will be easy to feel because it can cause pain and it protrudes. After the infection, a swollen lymph node may remain swollen for a few more days. Lymph nodes can swell due to cancers and tumors too.


There are cases though where a lump behind ear may be caused by a more serious problem like leukemia or lymphoma. These are the most common types of cancer that can cause swollen lymph nodes. The lymph nodes will appear as lumps behind the ear. Bumps that are painful may mean that the lymph nodes are trying to fight an infection, which is what they are there for in the first place. If the swelling or the bump behind your ear starts to be painful, or causes fever and other uncomfortable symptoms, it is better to be a little more alert and go see your doctor.


Since the causes of the lumps are varied, the treatment will vary depending on the cause. But no matter how small they are, avoid self treatment. If they are not painful and do not cause any disturbance to your daily routine, you can just leave them alone. It is only the painful lumps that need to be seen and diagnosed by a doctor. It is crucial to determine the cause before the right treatment can be applied.