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Have itchy scalp and found tender lumps behind ears. What is causing this?

Answered by
Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :2004

Answered : 1778 Questions

Posted on Tue, 15 Jan 2013 in General Health
Question: I have two small tender lumps behind my right ear, an itchy scalp (just at the very top of my skull) and headaches that tend to hurt more on the right side but also my whole head hurts at the same time too.... What is this?
Answered by Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar 11 hours later

I apologize for a delay in reply as there was some problem submitting the answer.

The two tender lumps are enlarged lymph nodes are called post auricular nodes. They are enlarged when the areas that they drain from are infected. Since they drain from the scalp and you have an itchy scalp I would first rule out scalp infection like eczema, dandruff etc.

Scalp infection can cause headache too and it adds to the existing migraine and makes it difficult to manage. Hence the next step for you would be to see a Primary care and get the examination done for the scalp. At the same time we need to check for the enlargement of deeper lymph nodes and on the other side as well which drain from throat and ear. A good clinician will do a simple ENT examination as well.

Let me know if you need any clarification further. I am available.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Aparna Kohli
Follow up: Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar 1 hour later
I usually dont have danduff or problems anywhere else with eczema, my scalp just has these flare ups or does these this every now and then where it will get real itchy (it's always on the very top of my skull and no where else), and my husband has looked at my scalp and all he sees is places of what he describes of build up of dry skin in different little places; and this time, like most times it flares up I scratch at it because it so itchy, I even scratch at it in my sleep according to my husband. Well now I have several little sores, that are scabbed over on top of my head, but they do not look infected... So I don't understand how it made my lymph nodes swell this time and no time before and how do i have a scalp infection when the places look fine? And I checked the other side and I do have one small lump behind my left ear, that doesn't hurt at all, which I am guessing is a swollen lymph gland as well? And last night my right ear was hurting, when we was out in the cold windy air but today my ear only hurts every now and then. Is my ear ache related to my scalp problem, lymph nodes being swollen, or probably a separate issue?
Answered by Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar 3 hours later
The lymph node swelling could be from ear problem or the scalp problem.

Scalp infection can lead to ear problems as well. They may be related but not sure unless I examine them closely.

However you are definitely coming out with clear symptoms of something wrong on the scalp. If you see white and dry scales you need to check out of Psoriasis as well. They are extremely itchy and as your husband's description. The scratch lead to sores and scabs all over. Please consult a doctor immediately. Meantime you can take over the counter available antihistamines with Cetrizine as temporary solution only. We need to stop the itch and scratch cycle.

Did you follow what I just said?

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Aparna Kohli

The User accepted the expert's answer

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