It’s common to develop bumps on and around your earlobe called cysts. They are similar in appearance to pimples, but they are different.
Some cysts don’t need treatment. If the cyst causes pain, or doesn’t go away, you should seek the help of a medical professional.
Earlobe cysts are saclike lumps made of dead skin cells. They look like small, smooth bumps under the skin, similar to a blemish. They vary slightly in color from matching your skin pigmentation to red. Usually they are no bigger than the size of a pea. But you should watch them to see if they change in size.
They are almost always benign and should cause no problems other than being a minor cosmetic issue or small distraction. For example, it can feel uncomfortable if your headphones rub against it.
Places you find them include:
- on your scalp
- inside your ear
- behind your ear
- in your ear canal
If a cyst gets damaged, it can leak a fluid called keratin, which is similar in texture to toothpaste.
An earlobe cyst is also known as an epidermoid cyst. These occur when epidermis cells that should have been shed get deeper into your skin and multiply. These cells form the walls of the cyst and secrete keratin, which fills up the cyst.
Damaged hair follicles or oil glands can cause them. Cysts also often tend to run in families, or can form for no reason. They occur in most people at some point. However, they are generally no cause for concern.
There are factors that may put you at a higher risk for developing a cyst. These include:
- having a rare syndrome or genetic disorder
- being past the age of puberty — cysts rarely develop in children and babies
- having a history of, or are currently having acne issues, your skin is more prone to develop lumps of fluid
- skin injuries that cause cells to react in an abnormal way and bury themselves deeper into the skin, causing a lump to form
If you feel a bump around your earlobe or scalp, it is most likely a benign cyst and it will go away without treatment. Sometimes the cyst will get bigger, but it should still go away without treatment.
You should see a doctor if the cyst gets large, causes you pain, or affects your hearing. You should also watch its color. If the color begins to change, it may be infected. You should seek the help of a medical professional to have it removed via a simple incision.
The treatment for a cyst depends on its severity. If the cyst does not cause any problems, you do not need to treat it. It should disappear without treatment.
You may want to remove it if you find the cyst an annoyance, the pain is significant, or the cyst grows to an uncomfortable size. Also, if the cyst causes any prolonged pain or hearing loss, you should make an appointment with a doctor to avoid an infection.
A doctor can remove it with an operation under a local anesthetic. The doctor will cut the cyst, pull it out, and stitch it up the skin.
If the cyst grows back, which can sometimes happen, it can easily be removed again.
Earlobe cysts are almost always benign and disappear without treatment. They are usually nothing more than a minor distraction. If they grow and begin to cause pain or even a slight loss of hearing, you should immediately make an appointment with your doctor to discuss treatment options.