Lump Behind Ear: What Causes It and Should You See a Doctor?

Research shows that there are different causes of lumps. It may be anything from infection to cancer.

A close-up of an ear with a lump

Lumps can appear in any part of your body. Some people have lumps on the backs, on their legs, and even their neck. But did you know that it is also possible to have a lump behind your ear? Yes, it is true. The good news is that unlike other lumps on other parts of your body, lumps on this are not dangerous and can be easily treated. Learn more about this condition in this article.

Causes of Lumps Behind Your Ear

Research shows that there are different causes of lumps. These are cancer, infections, and swollen lymph nodes. In some studies, it has been proven that the most likely cause of lumps is lipomas, skin cysts, and acne.


If you are not familiar with lipomas, these are fatty and harmless lumps. Even better, these do not spread and usually grow very slowly. You should not be afraid of these as these are not cancerous as well.

When you touch it, it has a soft texture. You will not feel pain unless you are able to press the nerves nearby. There can be instances wherein the lipomas will appear on the other parts of your body, and in worse cases, it can all appear simultaneously.

The lumps may appear small and could actually be the same size as a pea. With this, cosmetic surgeons can easily remove it although that is not recommended as lumps are usually gone without treatment.


Just like lipomas, cysts can appear anywhere in your body. These are fluid-filled sacs that have a dome shape. There are other times when the cyst has a black spot at the top. Unlike other lumps, cysts can move around in your body. It is actually weird if the cyst lump does not move.

In fact, there are a lot of cyst types. If you found a cyst on your scalp, it means that the sac of the cyst has hair root cells. Meanwhile, if you are referring to the sebaceous cyst, these come from glands that can give your skin and hair oily substances. Other types of cysts can appear on your skin, including the one behind your ear.


You are probably aware that acne is a skin condition. Some studies believe that it is the main cause of the lump on your ear. When you have acne, expect that your pores are blocked with sebum, the oily substance from the hair follicles.

So when sebum is mixed with dead skin cells, it can turn into comedones, which is another layer. This layer can give pimples infection. In the event that the pimple becomes infected, it will grow and eventually lead to lumps. You will know that the lump came from acne when it hurts when you press it.

There are also others who believe that the lumps come from enlarged lymph nodes. These are originally from your immune system that is responsible for draining and filtering your tissues. When you have a lymph node on the back of your ear, it is called the posterior auricular lymph node.

It is important to note that the lymph node has a tendency to become swollen if it is exposed to a foreign material including an infection. Fortunately, this can be healed without undergoing treatment. But if you are unlucky, it can result in ear or skin infections. The lump will last for two weeks. If that exceeds, do not hesitate to visit your doctor.

Best Time to Visit the Doctor

As mentioned, you will have to visit your doctor once the lump exceeds in your ear for more than two weeks. But that is not the only case. Take note of these to know when should you visit your doctor if you have a lump behind your ear.

  1.         A lump appeared out of nowhere.
  2.         The lump grows and changes over time.
  3.         The lump is attached and fixed in its current position.
  4.         The lump has a discharge, is red, and tender.
  5.         The lump is painful.

It has been known that when there is a lump behind your ear, you already have cancer. But do not panic as there can be another reason for that lump. The best way to know for sure is to visit your doctor. During your visit, the doctor will check the texture and appearance of the said lump.

Expect that the doctor will ask questions, particularly on when the lump appeared and the symptoms that you experienced. There is also a tendency that the doctor will require you to provide your medical history to immediately see your overall health.

In case the doctor was not able to see anything based on the data that he or she has, there can be a chance that you will undergo a further investigation. This could mean that the doctor will take a sample of your tissue or have you undergo an imaging test.


Lumps can appear in any part of your body, including the back of your ear. Although a lot of people would panic when they have this condition, you should not. This is because lumps are usually gone within a few weeks and do not require treatment unless they exceed their duration.

There are three main causes of lumps: acne, lipomas, and cyst. Each can be differentiated in their texture and feel whenever you touch them. Even the cause behind these is different. However, once the lump stays behind your ear for more than 2 weeks, then it is best that you visit your doctor.

The diagnostic will be done by checking the lump. The appearance and texture are further investigated to see the cause of the lump. It will also be possible that the doctor will require you to give you medical history and other personal data to find out how you were able to get the lump.

Apart from waiting for 2 weeks, you can head to the nearby hospital or clinic when the lump is painful, changing, and has a discharge.

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