All About Earlobe Cysts: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment Methods

Jun 16, 2023

Article by Hearing Partners, contributed by Sadrina Shah, Clinical Audiologist at Hearing Partners

A cyst is a sac within the skin or other tissue that holds air or fluid. It can develop when your skin cells multiply and move deeper into the skin instead of shedding. It can also result from injury to the skin. A cyst can be found anywhere in the body, including your earlobe.

Earlobe cysts, also known as epidermoid cysts, typically affect adults. In this article, we’ll explore the symptoms and causes of cysts in the earlobe. We’ll also cover the methods of diagnosing and treating this lump, before answering your frequently asked questions.

Symptoms of Earlobe Cysts

An earlobe cyst can look similar to a pimple in appearance. It typically measures up to 5 or 6mm in diameter and is firm and round. It may be the same colour as your flesh, though it may become red when inflamed. 

A telltale symptom of a cyst in your earlobe is the drainage of a thick, yellow substance known as keratin. This substance may sometimes be accompanied by a foul odour.

When an earlobe cyst becomes infected, you may notice the following signs and symptoms:

  • Inflammation of the lump
  • Redness and swelling
  • Tenderness or pain
  • A boil-like infection

You’re recommended to see a doctor if you suspect that the cyst is infected.

Causes of Earlobe Cysts

Earlobe cysts are more likely to affect men than women. Additionally, it’s unlikely to find them in babies and children.

Some factors that may increase the risk of developing cysts in the earlobe include:

  • Genetics: Some individuals may be more prone to developing cysts due to certain genetic conditions.
  • Acne: This increases the likelihood of cysts as the skin is more prone to lumps containing fluid.
  • Injury: Injury to superficial hair follicles or sebaceous glands can cause the skin cells to react abnormally, resulting in earlobe cysts.

Diagnosing Earlobe Cysts

An earlobe cyst is often diagnosed through a physical examination. The doctor may scrape off some skin cells and inspect them under a microscope or take a sample of your skin for a more detailed examination in the laboratory.

If you notice the following signs or symptoms, you’re encouraged to see a doctor as soon as possible:

  • Inflammation or infection of the lump
  • Pain or discomfort
  • A change in colour
  • A sudden growth in size
  • Hearing loss or problems balancing
  • The lump bursting

Take a hearing test or balance diagnostic test today

Common signs of hearing loss include turning the volume higher than usual or difficulties following conversations. If you suspect that you’re experiencing hearing loss or balance problems, book a hearing test or balance diagnostic test at Hearing Partners today.

Treatment for Earlobe Cysts

While medication can be used to manage swelling and inflammation of the lump, surgery or needle aspiration is required for the removal of the cyst.

Injection

The doctor will inject some medication into the cyst to reduce any swelling and treat the inflammation. It’s important to note that this treatment method doesn’t get rid of the cyst.

Needle aspiration

If the cyst contains fluid, it can be treated through needle aspiration. This involves draining the lump using a needle and a syringe. This treatment method is fast and fuss-free. However, the cyst is more likely to resurface.

Surgical removal

Surgical removal is a more thorough method of removing the cyst. With this method, the cyst is less likely to return.

The surgery will begin with local anaesthesia. Next, a small incision will be made to allow the doctor to remove the cyst. Finally, the hole will be closed with stitches.

FAQs About Earlobe Cysts

Can earlobe cysts be cancerous?

Earlobe cysts are generally benign. However, if you’re concerned that the lump may be cancerous, you’re advised to see a doctor.

Do earlobe cysts go away on their own?

If the earlobe cyst is benign, it can go away on its own. However, the amount of time needed may vary depending on each individual. Some cysts, on the other hand, do require medical intervention in order to be removed.

It’s crucial that you observe the cyst. If you notice any changes in the shape, size or colour, you may need to see a doctor.

Should I squeeze the cyst?

No, you should avoid squeezing the cyst on your earlobe. Doing so can increase the risk of infection and scarring, and the cyst is also more likely to recur. You’re recommended to see a doctor for the removal of the lump.

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