Lumps behind the ears can occur for a variety of reasons. Most lumps are relatively benign, but sometimes they can be a sign of a more serious condition. A lump behind the ear can be hard or soft. Some are tender to the touch, others are painless. Let’s look at some of the causes of lumps behind the ears, possible treatments, and when to see a doctor.
Common infections can cause a lump behind the ear
Lumps behind the ears are often caused by colds, flu, strep, or respiratory infections. This is because the lymph nodes behind the ear become swollen and inflamed due to infection. In most cases, swollen glands are not a cause for concern. If they disappear on their own or are caused by a bacterial infection, they are easily treated with antibiotics. Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter pain relievers for any discomfort. You can easily find these at Smith’s Drugstore or another local drug store.
If the infection is more serious, the lymph nodes can become really enlarged, swollen, red, and tender.
One serious infection that can cause a lump behind the ear is mastoiditis. Mastoiditis is a bacterial infection that affects the mastoid bone behind the ear. This usually happens when a middle ear infection is left untreated and spreads. It usually occurs in young children, but mastoiditis can occur at any age. Symptoms of mastoiditis are:
Severe pain behind the ear
If mastoiditis is not treated, it can lead to hearing loss, meningitis, blood clots, and paralysis of the facial nerve. If you experience symptoms of mastoiditis, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
Skin conditions and non-cancerous lumps
In addition to infections, several skin conditions can cause lumps behind the ears. Acne is most common on the face, but can appear anywhere on the body. Acne behind the ear can usually be left alone or treated with an over-the-counter cream.
Other causes include fatty lumps (lipomas) and cysts. Both growths are soft and usually painless. In some cases, the cyst becomes infected and antibiotics are needed. However, most of them disappear on their own. If you have a lipoma that causes discomfort, it can be removed surgically.