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What could be the cause of lump formation on the outer ear leading to pain?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 1995
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I feel a lump when I massage my outer ear. The lump is not where the ear is pierce. It's close to the ear canal. However, it moves when I massage it. The lump is not on the skin surface but is inside. I'm not sure if it's cartilage or skin tissue. I do have an ear ache once in a while but not sure if this is what causing it. I've been using an antiobiotic cream and it does seem to help a little. The ache will come for a day or two and will go away for weeks. This started back in December 2010. Please advice of what this may be. Thanks.
Wed, 2 May 2012 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Answered by Dr. Pragnesh Vachharajani 13 hours later

I am not worried about your description of the problem.

What I understand is that you are having small nodule in the skin of ear since about 3-4 months near opening of ear canal.

There are 2 possibilities,
the first one-it could be thickening of ear cartilage inside the skin. This is very common condition and will not cause any harm to you unless it gets infected.

The second it could what is called as simple cyst, something like a plastic bag filled with fluid.

Both the conditions are not harmful to you. If you are too much bothered you need to see an ENT surgeon and if he find it removable can be removed easily, else there is no need to worry.

Still if you want to have more query you can ask me.I will be glad to answer then resolve your doubts.

Take care.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: What could be the cause of lump formation on the outer ear leading to pain? 8 hours later
Is this what's causing the aches once in a while? Will it go away?
Answered by Dr. Pragnesh Vachharajani 15 minutes later

Good to see you back.

Yes sometimes,because in this area the skin is tight. So minor swelling and inflammation can give rise to pain. Mostly it wont go away on its own.

If pain increases and becomes frequent you should visit doctor and get treated with pain killers. If the doctor feels to puncture it and dressing it, he may do it under aseptic conditions. Please avoid manipulation means continuous checking for size etc.

If it increases in size and becomes very painful then course of drugs and followed by removal becomes mandatory. Other wise in most of the cases this does not cause major discomfort.

Wish you Good Health.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: What could be the cause of lump formation on the outer ear leading to pain? 3 hours later
The lump is visible unless I rub it and it rolls back and forth. It only aches once in while but not severe pain. You did mentioned that this may not be something to worry. But if it continues should it be a concern. Thanks.
Follow-up: What could be the cause of lump formation on the outer ear leading to pain? 7 hours later
You also mentioned about the thickening of cartilage and possibility of a cyst. Are most cysts round like a pimple? The lump on my ear is not round and feels more like cartilage. Like I mentioned previously, my ear looks fine and you can not even see the lump cause its inside the skin. There's no pain when I touched it just aches once in a while.
Answered by Dr. Pragnesh Vachharajani 1 hour later

See if it is not visible and you can only feel it, there is possibility of cartilage thickening.

In either of the case cyst or cartilage,the advise remains same. When it becomes painful to touch or gives rise to visible swelling with redness and increase in size, you should see your doctor. It will remain there if not removed. Still I feel there is no need for unnecessary removal.

Take care.
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