Lumps behind ear are common. They can be big or small in size and be either painful or painless. Many causes can be associated with ear lumps. Some are quite negligible while others can be a cause for medical treatment. Regardless of the possibilities, it is always beneficial seeking the advice of a health care practitioner. Sometimes, timely detection helps identify and treat serious problems, thereby, avoiding complications.
Common Causes for Lumps Behind Ears
Swollen Lymph Nodes
A lump behind ear most often results from a swollen lymph node. Lymph nodes belong to the immune system and fight infections and remove cell waste from the body. Lymph nodes are located in various strategic points throughout the body. The armpit, neck, groin and pelvic area and abdomen are the key places where lymph nodes can be found. Lymph nodes enlarge due to infection and other diseases. Swollen lymph nodes are quite common when experiencing wound infections and tooth abscesses. Most often, lymph nodes may not be serious. However, when they are hard and immobile and grow rapidly, this could be due to cancer. Therefore, swollen lymph nodes appearing as a bump behind ear require a medical examination, especially if they do not subside within few days. Pain relievers, antibiotics and antiviral medication help treat and relieve the symptoms of swollen lymph nodes.
Sebaceous cysts form just under the skin and may be felt as a lump behind ear. These cysts contain a "cheesy" protein with a foul odour. This protein substance is called keratin. Sebaceous cysts occur due to swollen hair follicles or skin trauma. Sebaceous cysts are not dangerous and do not require treatment as most often it disappears after a time. However, infected sebaceous cysts may become abscesses. Abscesses cause inflammation and require medication since they are filled with pus and can become extremely painful, needing surgical draining.
Mastoiditis occurs when ear infections cause infection in the mastoid bone. The mastoid bone can be found directly behind the ear. Mastoiditis causes the area behind the ear to swell and protrude out of the skin. The bump behind ear is accompanied with fever, ear pain, hearing loss and ear redness.
Serious Causes of Lumps behind Ears
Most lumps and bumps behind the ears may be due to common causes. However, there are some instances when lumps behind ears could be due to more serious causes. The most worrisome cause of a lump behind ear is cancer. Common symptoms of head and neck cancer are a bump behind the ear, difficulty in swallowing, a sore throat that does not heal and a hoarse voice. Sometimes, cancer of the salivary glands may also cause a bump behind the ear. This is known as metastatic squamous neck cancer and can be detected with tests and physical examinations.
Early detection is one of the key prerogatives in treating any form of cancer successfully.
Home Remedies for a Lump in Ear
Certain lumps in ears can be treated with home remedies. This depends on the severity and the seriousness of the lumps. For example, sebaceous cysts can be treated with tea tree oil. Saturating a cotton swab with tea tree oil and holding it to the cyst for five minutes and washing it with oil-free soap dries up the fluids in the cyst. This minimizes swelling. Swollen lymph glands behind the ears can be treated by gargling with salt water or turmeric. Pain with mastoiditis can be treated by pouring a few drops of warm, Mullein oil in the infected ear. Garlic oil may also used for treating ear aches associated with infected ears.
While some people are comfortable in trying out home remedies, it is always advisable that a symptom such as bump behind ear is brought to medical attention. Home remedies may help in minor conditions but relying on them for a long period, especially when there is no relief, can lead to further medical complications.