Earlobe cyst; how do I get rid of a lump in my earlobe?

A lump in the earlobe is usually a benign cyst. There are two ways to get rid of an earlobe cyst. Often the best way to remove this type of cyst is a small cut following a local anesthetic. A doctor can also cut and drain the cyst.

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How do I get rid of a lump in my earlobe?

A lump in the earlobe is usually a benign cyst. There are two treatment options for getting rid of an earlobe cyst. Often, the best way is surgical and carried out under a local anaesthetic. The doctor will make a small cut in the cyst and remove the abnormal tissue. Cysts can also be drained of the fluid inside them.

Removing the cyst surgically means it is less likely to come back. However, the draining option, while quick and easy, does mean that the cyst is more likely to return.

Often, benign cysts will go away without treatment, but you should keep an eye out for any changes in shape or colour, as these may be signs that you should see a doctor.

What is a cyst?

A cyst is a pocket of skin or other tissue containing air or fluid (often a thick, white substance called keratin).

Sometimes skin cells multiply or grow instead of being shed, embedding themselves deeper into the epidermis and forming the walls of a cyst within the top layers of the skin. They can also form on a hair follicle if the outermost layer is irritated or injured. Cysts are also known as epidermoid cysts, or epidermal inclusion cysts.

Epidermoid cysts affect men more than women, but anyone, regardless of gender or age, can develop a cyst. However, there are a number of factors which can increase the risk of an epidermoid cyst forming.

  • Age - cysts are rare in babies and children, so being over the age of puberty will increase the risk
  • Genetics - some rare syndromes and genetic conditions can increase the likelihood of cysts, such as Gardner syndrome which causes tumours and polyps in and around the colon
  • Acne - a history of acne can cause cysts to develop as the skin is more prone to developing lumps of fluid
  • Injury - skin injuries can cause cells to react in an abnormal way, burying themselves deeper into the skin and forming a cyst

What do earlobe cysts look like?

Earlobe cysts, or epidermoid cysts, look like small, smooth bumps under the skin of the earlobe. They can vary slightly in colour, from matching your natural skin pigmentation through to a bright red.

They are generally no bigger than the size of a pea, but you should pay attention to any changes in size as this might be a sign that you should seek medical advice.

If a cyst bursts or is damaged, it might leak a thick, white fluid called keratin.

Cysts in the earlobe are almost always benign and shouldn’t cause any problems other than a minor cosmetic issue. Sometimes an earlobe cyst can become infected and will then require medical attention. Signs of an infection may include:

  • redness and inflammation of the area
  • swelling and tenderness or pain
  • a boil-like infection from a burst cyst

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Why do I have a lump in my earlobe?

These occur when epidermis cells that should have been shed bury into the skin and multiply, forming the walls of the cyst. They secrete a type of protein called keratin which fills up the cyst.

Other causes of earlobe cysts include damaged hair follicles or oil glands, and they also tend to run in families. Sometimes they can form for no reason at all, but they are generally not a cause for concern.

When should I see a professional about my earlobe cyst?

A lump on your earlobe is most likely a benign cyst and will usually go away without treatment. However, you should keep an eye on your cyst and note if there are any changes, as this might be an indicator that you should seek medical treatment.

You should see a doctor if your cyst:

  • Grows in size (although a little growth is normal)
  • Causes pain or discomfort
  • Affects your hearing
  • Changes colour 

How long does it take for a lump in your ear to go away?

Benign earlobe cysts will often go away on their own, but the length of time this can take depends on a number of factors and varies from person to person. Sometimes these lumps can only go away with treatment. You should keep an eye on your cyst and seek help if it doesn’t appear to be healing.

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How do you get rid of a cyst in your earlobe?

It might be tempting to try and pop a cyst, but this is a bad idea as it can lead to scarring and infection. It is best to apply a warm compress to the cyst to encourage drainage and reduce swelling.

The only effective way to get rid of an ear cyst that will not heal by itself is by surgically removing the cyst under a local anaesthetic. By removing the cyst in this way, it is unlikely that it will return.

Another option is draining the cyst of its contents. This procedure is quick and simple, but drainage treatment is not as thorough and therefore the cyst may return.

Earlobe cysts are almost always benign and can disappear on their own. However, if they grow and cause pain or hearing loss, then a GP appointment is recommended to discuss the options available.


How do I get rid of a lump in my earlobe piercing?

Lumps can form on the earlobe following a piercing. This is caused by the body making too much scar tissue, known as keloids, which spread out from the original wound, causing a small mass or bump to appear which is bigger than the original piercing. A keloid will not go away on its own and will require surgical intervention.

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Some people have wounds that tend to overheal. Initially, they heal normally, and then they continue to heal producing a lump which is still growing, red, uncomfortable and itchy.

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