Appearance of lump behind ear or knot behind the ear or anywhere else on your body can be a very scary thing to experience. These lumps or knots behind the ear can be small in size or large; but they are almost always harmless. They, of course, need medical attention, but are rarely an indication of a fatal or life-threatening problem. The lumps behind ear or knot behind ear can be painful or painless depending on the causative factor behind it. It is important to consult a doctor when there are lumps or knots present behind the ear or anywhere in the body, as early detection helps in avoiding future complications.

Lump Behind Ear or Knot Behind Ear

Causes of Lump Behind Ear or Knot Behind Ear

Some of the common causes or conditions of lumps, knots, nodules or bumps behind the ears are:

Lump Behind Ear or Knot Behind the Ear Caused by Cysts: Cysts are one of the common causes of knots or lumps behind the ears. Sebaceous cysts are noncancerous bumps, which develop under the skin. Common regions where they occur include the head, neck and torso. Sebaceous cyst develops around the sebaceous gland. The function of this gland is production of oil for lubrication of skin and hair. Many of the times sebaceous cysts produce little or no pain. They can be, however, irritating or uncomfortable to the patient. Epidermal cysts can also develop behind the ear leading to appearance of lumps or knots behind the ear. Accumulation of keratin leads to development of epidermal cysts. These can occur anywhere in the body including behind the ears. It is important to treat any type of cysts, as they can become infected and fester.

Lumps or Knots Behind the Ear Caused by Abscess: Abscess is a condition when there is infection in the cells or the tissue in an area of the body. Abscess behind the ear can appear as a lump or a knot. There is development of pus in the abscess, which is a thick, fluid comprising of dead white bloods cells, bacteria, tissue etc. Abscesses behind the ear or anywhere are commonly painful and warm to touch.

Lump Behind the Ear or Knot Behind the Ear Caused by Lymphadenopathy: Lymphadenopathy is a condition of the lymph nodes, which become enlarged and appear as painful lumps or knots behind the ears. Lymph nodes are tiny structures, which are present all over our body including behind the ears, under the arms, in the neck and in the pelvis. Lymph node swelling occurs as a result of infection, inflammation or cancer.

Lumps or Knots Behind the Ear Caused by Acne: Acne is quite a common skin condition where there is blocking or clogging of the hair follicles in the skin. The hair follicles can become clogged due to oil (sebum) and dead skin cells. This causes development of pimples or bumps, which can further grow into painful lumps or knots. Acne can also develop behind the ear. The causes of acne include hormonal changes, stress, staph infections or a genetic predisposition.

Lumps Behind Ear or Knot Behind Ear Caused by Otis Media: Otis media is a condition where there is infection of the ear. These infections can be viral or bacterial. Any type of ear infection causes pain, swelling and accumulation of fluid, which can appear as lump or knot behind the ear. Antibiotics help in relieving symptoms and fighting the infection.

Lumps or Knots Behind the Ear Caused by Mastoiditis: Mastoiditis is an infection of the mastoid bone, which is found behind the ear. Mastoiditis develops if an ear infection is left untreated resulting in a more serious infection, which is known as Mastoiditis. There can be development of pus-filled cysts, which can be visible as lump behind ear or knot behind ear.

Lumps or Knots Behind the Ear Caused by Throat Infection: Viral or bacterial infections can cause swelling in the throat, face and around the neck. Some of the common infections include infectious mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr virus) and strep throat. Other conditions, which can cause swelling around the neck and face and appearance of lumps or knot behind the ear include chickenpoxmeasles and HIV/AIDS.

Lump Behind Ear or Knot Behind Ear Caused by Lipoma: Lipoma is a lump made up of fat, which develops between the skin layers. A lipoma can occur anywhere on the body, including the area behind the ears. In majority of the cases, lipomas are harmless. As the lipomas grow larger, they can be felt quite easily with the hands.

Lump or Knot Behind the Ear Caused by Benign Tumor: These tumors are painless and appear as soft and movable lumps, which can develop from the tissues of the salivary glands towards the region behind the ears. The benign tumors may remain the same size or can grow larger. Cholesteatoma is a type of growth, which occurs on the mastoid bone behind the ears. This condition causes destruction of adjacent tissues and appears as a lump/knot under the skin and behind the ear. Cholesteatoma can also cause drainage in the ear, hearing loss and dizziness.

Lump or Knot Behind the Ear Caused by Cancer: Cancer is malignant growth, which can appear anywhere in the body. If it affects the salivary gland, then it can appear as a lump or a knot behind the ear. Skin cancer can also cause lumps or knots behind the ears. Malignant lumps tend to increase in size over the time.

Diagnosis of Lump Behind Ear or Knot Behind Ear

  • The lump behind the ear can be best felt with the hand.
  • If the lump or the knot feels soft and pliable, then it can be a lipoma.
  • Individuals with a history of acne can easily detect a lump or knot behind the ear, which appears as a pimple.
  • If the lump behind ear or knot behind ear is tender and painful, particularly to touch, then it could be an abscess or a pimple.
  • If the patient has fever and chills along with the presence of lump or knot behind the ear, then it can be due to infection.
  • It is important to seek medical attention, especially if the lump or knot behind the ear is causing problem, such as pain and discomfort along with other symptoms.
  • Physical examination and medical history will be taken by the doctor, which helps in detecting the cause of the lump or knot behind the ear.
  • Other tests, such as biopsy of the lump, can be done to find out what is the cause of the lump behind the ear.

Treatment for Lump Behind Ear or Knot Behind Ear

Treatment depends on the cause of the lump or knot behind the ear. In some cases, treatment may not be required and the lump usually resolves on its own. Lump behind ear or a knot behind ear are mostly harmless and not a cause for major concern. Depending on the cause, treatment for lump or knot behind the ear includes:

Treatment for Lump Behind Ear or Knot Behind Ear as a result of Dermatitis includes the use of:

  • Antifungal agents, such as ketoconazole and ciclopirox are prescribed for yeast infection.
  • Corticosteroids, such as hydrocortisone and betamethasone, in topical application help in relieving itching and discomfort.
  • A bath containing uncooked oatmeal or baking soda helps in soothing any irritation.
  • The lump behind the ear can be covered with a bandage to prevent scratching.

Treating Lump or Knot Behind the Ear Caused Due to Mastoiditis:

  • Antibiotics, such as ceftriaxone, along with ear drops are prescribed to help fight the infection and relieve the drainage.
  • A mixture of garlic and olive oil, which is strained, can be instilled about 1 to 2 drops, into the infected ear.

Treatment for lump or knot behind the ear as a result of Lymphadenopathy comprises of:

  • To fight the infection and decrease the swelling of the lymph nodes, medications such as anti-inflammatories, antibiotics and anti-parasitics are prescribed.
  • Painkillers are prescribed for relieving the pain.
  • Gargling with turmeric or salt water also helps in relieving the infection which causes lumps or knots behind the ears.

Treatment for Lump Behind Throat or Knot Behind The Ear as a result of Throat Infection comprises of:

  • Depending on the cause of the throat infection, whether it is bacterial or viral, antibiotics are prescribed.
  • If the infection is viral then it usually runs its course and subsides on its own.
  • Gargling with turmeric or salt water helps in fighting the infection.

Treatment for Lump or Knot Behind the Ear Caused due to Otis Media Includes:

  • Painkillers, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, help in alleviating the pain from the ear infection.
  • Antibiotics along with ear drops are also prescribed to fight the infection.

Treatment for lump or knot behind the ear as a result of Acne comprises of:

  • If the acne does not resolve on its own and is stubborn causing pimples, which appear as lumps behind the ears, then medications containing benzoyl peroxide and retinoid are prescribed.
  • If the cause of acne is staph infections, then antibiotics along with antiseptic creams and lotions should be used.
  • If the cause of the acne is hormonal imbalance, then hormonal /anti-androgenic therapy is done.

Treatment for Lump Behind Ear or Knot Behind Ear as a Result of Cysts Includes:

  • For treating the cysts, which appear as lumps or knots behind the ear, anti-inflammatory agents, such as hydrogen peroxide gels are prescribed.
  • Antibiotics can also be prescribed if the cyst is infected with formation of pus.
  • Warm compresses/heat application helps in softening the cyst and draining the pus, which provides some relief from the pain and discomfort.
  • In severe cases, surgical excision of the cyst or laser therapy may be required.

Treatment for Lump Behind Ear or Knot Behind Ear as a Result of Benign Tumor Comprises of:

  • Benign tumors are harmless and are mostly removed for cosmetic reasons.
  • If the benign tumors are painful and cause difficulty in moving the jaw, then they are removed with the help of a small surgical procedure done under local anesthesia.
  • Chemical destruction of the benign tumors can also be done.
  • Liposuction can also be done for benign tumors in some cases.

Treatment for Lump or Knot Behind the Ear as a Result of Cancer Comprises of:

Treatment for the cancerous growths behind the ear comprise of surgical removal, radiation and chemotherapy.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: May 3, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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