A small raised spot on the ear may be harmless but that depends on the cause. If it keeps growing, hurts and swells up, it may be caused by an infection.
Whether small or growing, it is important to know that some bumps can be dangerous cancerous growths while others are not dangerous at all. Mostly, these zit like formations can be painful, grow on the ear lobe, cartilage or even in the ear canal.
While ear bumps and pimples are likely to form at any point of the ear, when they occur inside the ear canal, they become uncomfortable, painful and sometimes obstructive to hearing for some people. Pimples in ear are normally soft or hard.
Mostly, the location of these formations is associated with other characteristics such as being sore or painless. For example, in the ear canal, they can be sore and painful while ear bump next to piercing can be hard and painless. But if I have a bump inside my ear, what could be the cause?
Causes of pimple, bump or zit in ear
Ear pimples, zits and bumps are also called sebaceous cysts inside the ear. These are made up of “dead cells and skin oils” [St Mark James Training]. They can develop overnight and are said to be the most common cysts that form in the ear. Here are some of the causes.
- Ostitis externa, also known as infection of the ear canal, which often leads to the swelling inside the ear. This can feel like a bump or a lump.
- Non-cancerous extoses and osteomas, which are additional bone growths inside the ear may cause small hard bumps in ear.
- When cancer develops in earwax cells, it can cause ear bumps as well. While one of the most common symptom is their manifestation on the outer ear, there are types of growths that happen in the ear canal as well. If you suspect in any way that this could be the cause, see a doctor as soon as possible.
- Ear infections can also be the source of bumps, pimples, zits and scabs in ear.
Common symptoms of ear bumps and pimples may include a feeling of fullness in the ear, not hearing well, a sore pimple, or bump that hurts, itchiness and sometimes swollen glands behind the ear, pain in the earlobe.
Painful bump in ear, ear lobe, canal and next to piercing
Do you have a bump in ear that hurts? A small painful bump in ear is generally caused by the sore pimple. You may feel a lot of discomfort if the small pimple is in the canal of the ear.
However, if there is acute pain, you should see a doctor immediately. Such bumps are commonly located:
- Next to piercing
- In earlobe
- Inside ear especially for small painful bumps or nodules
Although an irritated inner ear bump can be a source of all sorts of discomfort even when the bump itself is not harmful, the explanation is that the ear canal has limited space.
In addition to that, the ear lobe is quite sensitive and any minor issues such as buildup of wax, dirt, oil and sebum is likely to cause a small painful bump inside ear, on the earlobe and sometimes next to ear piercings. The dirt and all that buildup will fill small breaks and lead to the “bump.”
Big bump on ear lobe
When it comes to size, you can get a big bump in ear or just a small pimple. Small bumps are tender and may easily disappear on their own without treatment.
If you know how to pop a pimple, you can do it if you are sure it is just a pimple or a zit. However, depending on the location, this might become difficult especially if it is in the ear canal.
A big bump inside the ear lobe could be a symptom of something else though. Most of the times, people with an earlobe piercing develop big lumps that are normally referred to as keloids.
A keloid may be hard to get rid of, or will take time to reduce with treatments such as silicone pads and rubber bands. Surgical removal may also be
Inside ear bleeding and hurting
At times a spot in the ear can start producing a discharge. Discharge from the inside of your ear can be anything from wax, pus, blood or fluid.
One of the main causes of a sore bleeding bump in the ear is external trauma to the sump. For example, most people experience bleeding and discharge from an ear bump after trying to pop it, mostly before it is ripe.
There could be other reasons for bleeding from a bump inside the ear canal. It is important to note that a raptured eardrum can cause a yellow discharge from the ear. Also, you might see a bloody discharge from your ear. Eczema and other irritations of the ear have also been identified as a causes of bleeding inside ear.
- To prevent ear bumps and pimples from bleeding, ensure that you do not insert any objects in your ear until the sore lump is healed.
- Mild bacterial infections in the ear can form bumps that bleed. Acne spots can also start bleeding if they are scratched or popped.
- Avoid picking pimples, boils in ear and even small lumps in your ear as this is likely to make them bleed.
Any sort of drainage from your ear canal with bumps in it can be an alarming sign. Pus from a swollen bump inside the ear canal can be a sign of a serious ear infection, or a sign that you have open sores in your ear.
As LiveStrong reports, “an open sore on a bump may be a sign of cancer.”
Seek medical attention immediately if you see pus or feel a swelling from an ear canal bump or pimple. If caner is not treated at an early stage, the mostly applied treatment would be the removal of a big part of the external ear as Merck Manual reports.
Behind ear, hard, painful , large & swollen
Bumps behind ear might be caused by any of the already discussed causes. Typically, pimples, lumps and bumps behind ears tend to be of different sizes, small, swollen, hard, painful or that hurt, making the area behind your ear very uncomfortable.
If the pimple behind ear is located on the earlobe, it is likely a cartilage lump. However, if it is a bump behind ear on scalp or head, then it could be part of scalp bumps and pimples. Lymphadenopathy, mastoiditis, lipoma and otitis media, as well as other infections such as cancer, sebaceous cysts could be the cause of big hard bumps at the back of ears.
If the bump behind your ear is just a pimple, waiting for it to ripe before popping it will be of much help. However, if it is swelling and growing large, painful or inflamed, you should see an ENT for proper diagnosis and treatment. See video at the end showing how to pop a pimple bump in your ear.
On ear cartilage
The pressure between your pillow and head at night is sometimes enough to cause your ear to form a painful bump on ear cartilage.
The bump inside the top of the cartilage is just a benign lump. According to DermNet NZ, a hurting pimple on your cartilage “occurs in people who sleep predominantly on one side. It can be precipitated by minor trauma, such as tight headgear or a telephone headset, or by exposure to cold.”
1. Winkler disease
When this condition affects the inner rim of your ear, it is called Winklers disease, otherwise known as chondrodermatitis nodularis chronica antehelicis. Doctors say that this condition can last for months or even years and is easily confused with cancer of the ear.
2. Benign cyst on ear (epidermoid cyst)
Benign cysts on the cartilage of the ear are small bumps that characteristically form on the top of the ear but on the inner side. It starts as a pimple and you may want to pop it, but you will find that nothing comes out of it.
Another symptom of such cysts is that they can either be painful or painless. As they develop, benign bumps on ear cartilage can easily turn into blister-like formation. They may also look like moles especially when they are hard lumps.
3. Cystic acne
Another common condition with a bump inside ear canal especially when it is painful is simply a pimple forming under your skin inside the ear.
An infected body pore in the ear, when blocked can easily develop into a painful pimple under your skin. These are common when one has piercings.
According to Bhupinder Kaur, MD on MedHelp, if the bump is causing cosmetic problems, a dermatologist can excise it especially when it starts causing pain.
4. Cancer tumors and cysts
It is known that both benign and malignant tumors can easily cause lumps in the ear. These include melanoma, lymphoma and fibroma. Moles on the skin are also a type of tumors that are considered the cause of these bumps.
In some cases, having these bumps could be a symptom of cancer, which is a life-threatening condition that should be treated immediately. A biopsy can help your dermatologist or general practitioner with the diagnosis.
5. Keloid bump on ear piercings
Keloids on ear are common with piercings. The process of making a piercing on the earlobe leaves a scar. The scar is a normal tissue growth that extends beyond the initial point of injury as it heals.
If you describe your lump or bump as a huge or big bump in ear next to a piercing, then you are likely to be describing a keloid.
Treatments for keloid bumps on ear piercings include steroid injections and surgical excision to remove the externally growing tissue. Steroid injections are used to reduce inflammation and pain as the scar heals or is eaten away.
However, according to Edward Farrior, MD, a Tampa Facial Plastic Surgeon, keloids on ear may recur after treatment.
6. Wearing headphones
There have been claims that wearing headphones and listening to loud music from them is one cause of bumps in the ear. On the Acne.org forum, one person complained of having a big ear bump after wearing headphones for some time.
The same person complained of getting those ear pimples after plugging ear buds in their ears as well. There’s no scientific explanation as to why you get such an infection in your ear after listening to music from your headphones.
Itchy ear bumps from earphones could be caused by reaction of your skin to the material that is used to make them. Also, if they keep rubbing on your skin, you are likely to get irritated skin.
However, it is reasonable that you are likely to get an ear infection from earphones or headphones if they are not clean. Do not share headphones with anyone. Also, clean your ears regularly to avoid accumulation of ear wax.
How to get rid of ear bumps
Always see a doctor if you have symptoms such as pain, discharge or blood oozing from your ear. For white bumps in ear, red bumps and pimples inside ear, here are easy ways to get rid of them.
Antibiotics – Oral and Topical and Injections
Any infections on the outer ear and on the earlobe are sometimes treated using oral antibiotics. Such treatments are effective for little ear bumps such as acne pimples and small swellings.
Your doctor will diagnose you and prescribe the right antibiotic to help get rid of ear pimples fast. “Corticosteroid ear drops can be used to reduce the swelling caused by otitis externa.” [St Mark James Training]
Excision and drainage, surgical removal
Epidermoid cysts may require the attention of the doctor who is likely to give you corticosteroid injections to help reduce the lumps in your ear. Other treatments include drainage of the cysts in the ear and incisions as Mayo Clinic recommends.
Keloids are surgically removed from the ear if they become too big, obstruct hearing or are considered an aesthetic problem by the patient. Surgical removal of cysts, growths and lumps in the ear may not be very effective if the problem is keloids because they often grow back, and might grow back bigger.
Natural healing of pimples in ear
If the small bump in your ear is simply a pimple or cystic acne, allow it time to heal naturally. Careful cleaning of the ear is likely to be enough to heal and prevent growth of formation of new pimples from dirt buildup, shampoos and earwax.
- Avoid bursting the small dots, pimples and lumps in your ear. Aural pimples are very painful and may bleed for long when squeezed.
- WikiHow recommends dabbing tea tree oil and saltwater to the pimple will help reduce the swelling and irritation and allow them to heal slowly on their own, naturally.
- St Mark James Training: Interior ear bumps
- Healthtap: https://www.healthtap.com/user_questions/678653
- DermNet NZ: http://www.dermnetnz.org/lesions/chondrodermatitis.html
- HealthGrades: What causes an ear lump? http://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/ear-nose-and-throat/ear-lump–causes
- RealSelf: Hard, Growing Bump on Ear After Otoplasty? (photo)
- NLM: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003042.htm
DISCLAIMER: This article is for general informational purposes only. Do not consider it a substitute for professional medical advice. See a doctor and seek their advice before taking medication or changing your treatment.