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Tenderness behind ear, bump, rash, inflammation, measles, chicken pox ?

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Internal Medicine Specialist
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I am a 48 year old female. 3 days ago I started having tenderness behind my right ear. I felt a very tender bump. I asked friends to look at it. They said the could see it, "cashew" shaped. Since then I have developed a "bumpy" rash behind BOTH ears. People who have looked at it said it looked very inflamed. It also has started to go down my neck.
Posted Tue, 8 May 2012 in Infections
Answered by Dr. Jasvinder Singh 40 minutes later

Thanks for your query.

One of the important possibilities where a rash appears behind the ears and gradually starts going down the neck and subsequently involves the whole body is the rash of Measles.

However, the rash of measles is usually preceded by fever, cough and coryza (running nose). Hence, if you didn’t have these symptoms prior to the onset of rash, then the likelihood of this rash being due to measles is less likely. The treatment of measles is primarily symptomatic with paracetamol and increased intake of fluids.

Another important possibility which needs to be considered is chickenpox. However, in this the rash is typically clear fluid filled blisters and are itchy and there’s associated fever. In this, anti-viral drugs are used to treat the same along with symptomatic management.

I’ll suggest consulting a dermatologist for the same as it is not possible to make an online diagnosis without a physical examination.

Hope this answers your query. If you have additional questions then please do post us. Wishing you good health.
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Follow-up: Tenderness behind ear, bump, rash, inflammation, measles, chicken pox ? 12 hours later
Thank You Dr. XXXXXXX

Could the tender bump be a swollen lymph node and could this rash be associated with something like a fungal or yeast infection? I ask this because of two changes that I have implemented in the past month.
1. I have recently started allowing my hair to "air dry" which takes several hours and the wet hair lays around the ear, (before I would "blow-dry" my hair in minutes).

2. I have been working out several times daily, thus sweating alot.

I am currently putting clotrimazole 1% on after a thoroughly dry the area for 1 day so far. Minimal results noted.

Also another thing about the rash "it is only itchy to the touch".

Thank you, XXXXXXX
Answered by Dr. Jasvinder Singh 1 hour later

Thanks for your query.

Although you have incorporated these two changes, but they will not cause a bilateral (on both sides) lump behind the ear. It can be a swollen lymph node but it is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection or an allergic reaction. Did you suffer from any recent infection or allergic reaction?

Behind the ear there is skin, fat, cartilage, bone, nerves, blood vessels, Lymph nodes, and salivary gland tissue (a portion of the parotid salivary gland extends behind the ear). This itchy tender bump behind both ears can be due to viral infection ( as I have mentioned earlier) , an infection (Lymph node or skin) or a swollen muscle.

Take some pain killers or some anti-inflammatory drug if you have pain and apply warm compression on these lumps. If they spread more or become painful then an ENT specialist or a dermatologist can be consulted.

You can also send the snaps of the lumps at YYYY@YYYY , with Sub: ATTN 'Dr Jasvinder Singh". I will be able to help you better that way.

Hope this answers your query. If you have additional questions then please do post us.

Wishing you good health.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Tenderness behind ear, bump, rash, inflammation, measles, chicken pox ? 8 hours later
Thanks again Dr. XXXXXXX

I have had my measles vaccination w/booster, also my varicella titer is good.
Thus, I do not believe it is either. I was very sick about 2 month ago with viral URI in which I developed a secondary bacterial infection...(lasted 1 month total) ,but I have been feeling very well since 3 weeks ago. The allergy season where I live is very "strong", but I take medication such clarinex and singulair and they help.

"I am at a loss". The tender lump is unlateral, but the fine, bumpy, itchy-to-touch rash is bilateral...I do NOT feel sick at all. I have continued with my exercise regimen and do not feel weak either.

Thanks for your review of my symptoms. Appreciate you time.
Answered by Dr. Jasvinder Singh 13 hours later

Thanks for the further clarification. The tender unilateral bump can be a swollen lymph node after your URI and secondary bacterial infection. Swollen lymph nodes may sometimes take a few days even after the initial infection is gone .

Secondly as it is tender and due to the sweating after work outs, an infected hair follicle or a boil is another important possibility. Since you have clarified that it is unilateral, infected hair follicle cannot be ruled out. As mentioned earlier, apply warm compressions and take some prescription.

The itchy rash is bilateral and there is increased sweating, so heat rash or sweat dermatitis can be a possibility.You can apply some calamine lotion on the rash and try to avoid sweating by wiping off the sweat gently during workouts.

After treatment the symptoms will get better in a few days. If the bump increases in size then please do get it evaluated from your doctor because it may need oral antibiotics and incision and drainage.

Hope this answers your query. If you have additional questions or follow up queries then please do write back. I will be happy to answer your queries.

Wishing you good health.

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