Lump Behind Ear: Causes, Treatments and More

Lump Behind Ear - Causes and Treatments

If you find a lump behind your ear there is usually no cause for concern. Lumps, bumps or nodules behind the ear can appear for a number of reasons and most of them are harmless. You may find that if the bump is caused by an abscess, swollen lymph nodes, or an ear infection then it could hurt. However, some lumps behind the ear that are caused by a cyst or a buildup of fatty tissue won’t cause any pain.

Lumps and bumps that appear behind the ear can vary in size from being small and pea-sized to large swollen bump. Because the swelling is usually caused by an underlying condition, getting rid of the lump means that there is a need to treat the underlying cause. For example, if the lump is caused by an infection, treating the infection will make it disappear.

Here are the main reasons why lumps can develop behind the ear and how to use home remedies to treat them:


If you discover a lump behind one ear that hurts, it could be caused by an abscess. Abscesses form when tissue becomes infected by bacteria or other foreign substances and the body’s immune system tries to fight it. Pus usually forms in the abscess and this can result in painful swelling behind the ear. You will probably notice that the lump behind your ear is also warm to touch.

You can treat a small abscess at home by applying a warm compress with Epsom salt for 30 minutes 3 times a day. Keep doing this until the abscess is completely gone and you have no more swelling behind your ear. The warmth in the compress helps to increase blood circulation to the infected area and the Epsom salts help to drain the boil.

Dr. Melinda Ratini on WebMD advises that you should never squeeze or stick a needle into the abscess to treat it. You should visit your medical practitioner if the abscess is larger than 1 cm and continues to get bigger after using the warm compress.1

Ear infection

An ear infection can sometimes cause swelling behind the ear and on the neck. The swelling occurs when bacteria from an ear infection gets into the mastoid bone in the ear, causing it to become infected or inflamed. The condition is called mastoiditis. The National Institute of Health says that these types of ear infections can cause swelling behind the ear, ear pain, headaches and redness on or behind the ear.2

You can prevent this type of swelling behind the ear by treating ear infections quickly. To help to remove the source of the infection and reduce swelling, use some warmed olive oil to help dissolve the wax in the ear. All you have to do is put a few drops of warm olive oil in your ear and wait until the wax has softened. Then remove the wax from the outer ear with a cotton bud, making sure not to go into the middle ear.

Please read my article on how to use garlic and other natural ingredients as effective home remedies to treat ear infections. There you can find safe and effective natural treatments for ear infections.

If the ear infection isn’t treated at an early stage, and your symptoms become worse, your condition should be evaluated by a doctor.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

Some people notice that they have a pea-sized lump or nodule behind the ear that develops into a larger lump. This kind of bump behind your ear could be caused by swollen lymph nodes. Part of the body’s immune system is the lymphatic system comprising of lymph nodes in different areas of the body including the neck, around the collarbone, armpits and groin.

The University of Rochester Medical Center says that lymph nodes usually become swollen when a person has a cold or a sore throat or is fighting another kind of infection. When enlarged, they become small movable lumps under the skin and can sometimes be painful.3

To get rid of swollen lymph nodes behind the ears or anywhere else in the body, you need to treat the underlying condition. For example, a sore throat can cause the lymph nodes behind the ears to become enlarged. If this is the case, you can try this easy and effective homemade syrup to relieve sore throat, or this garlic syrup, elderberry syrup, calendula tea, or these essential oils.

A salt water gargle can also help to kill off the bacteria which are causing a throat infection. Just mix 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt in a glass of warm water. Gargle the salt water liquid regularly until the pain has eased and the swelling in your neck has gone down.

If you think that the lump behind your ear lobe is caused by swollen lymph nodes, you can read my article about natural ways to cleanse your lymphatic system. There you will find helpful tips to keep your lymphatic system healthy.


A small painful lump behind your ear could actually be a pimple caused by acne. Sometimes, the pimple can appear behind the earlobe on the soft skin close to the ear. Acne pimples and spots are caused when the skin’s pores get blocked with dead skin cells and sebum, the oil that the skin produces to keep it moist. This causes pores to become swollen, infected, and sore.

You can find ideas on how to treat acne and pimples in my article on how to get rid of pimples naturally, or you can also try to use coconut oil to get rid of acne behind your ears.


Lipomas are harmless soft lumps that are usually painless and can sometimes appear behind the ears on your neck. According to the Mayo Clinic, lipomas are generally less than 5 cm in diameter, but they can become painful if they continue to grow and start pressing on nerves.4 Doctors don’t know why some people develop these lumps, but it is thought that they are hereditary.

If you notice a lump behind your ear on your neck, anywhere on your upper torso, or on your thighs, you should have it seen by a specialist. Although lipomas aren’t cancerous, it is always best to make sure that the lump is properly diagnosed.

Epidermoid Cysts

An epidermoid cyst can form in the area behind your ear and cause a round painless lump under the skin. If the lump becomes inflamed or infected, it will be red and tender to touch. Epidermoid cysts form when epidermal cells multiply under the skin.

Dr. Richard Draper says on that epidermoid cysts don’t usually require any medical attention. However, if the cyst becomes inflamed and infected, a person should visit their medical practitioner.5

The Mayo Clinic recommends placing a warm, moist cloth onto the cyst. The warmth will encourage more blood flow to the cysts and help shrink the lump behind the ear. You shouldn’t squeeze the cyst because that can make the infection spread.6

Sebaceous cysts

Sebaceous cysts are described as harmless cysts that can be found behind the ear, in the earlobe, and on the scalp. Many people confuse epidermoid cysts with sebaceous cysts. However, the National Institute of Health in the U.S. says that sebaceous cysts are caused when the skin glands produce more sebum than can be released causing the cyst to form. They are usually harmless. However, if the cysts affect your hearing or become infected, you should visit your doctor.7

As with Epidermoid cysts, you can treat a sebaceous cyst by placing a warm moist compress on the affected area. The heat can help blood to flow to the cyst and help drain the cyst behind the ear.


Certain types of cancer like leukemia and lymphoma can cause the lymph nodes to swell behind the ear, in the neck, groin, and underarm. According to the American Cancer Society, cancer can form in the lymphatic system or it can spread there. However, they say that lymph node swelling is usually cause by something other than cancer, like an infection or injury.

If you discover a lump behind the ear, or anywhere else on your body that doesn’t go away after 2 weeks, you should visit your doctor to have it checked out and put your mind to rest.

Read my other related articles:
1. Bumps in Mouth: Causes, Symptoms and Natural Treatments
2. Bumps on Lips: Causes and Top Natural Treatments
3. Home Remedies for a Pimple in Ear
4. How to Get Rid of Nose Piercing Bump

Article Sources

Healthy and Natural World