What's with my earlobe?
June 29, 2007 7:59 PM   Subscribe

For several years I've had this small lump in my right earlobe. It's firm, but not hard, and it doesn't hurt or anything. I'm just stumped as to what it might be. Any ideas?
posted by fishmasta to Health & Fitness (23 answers total)
Lump = Doctor, not the internets.
posted by RMD at 8:01 PM on June 29, 2007

Have you ever had your ear pierced? Could it be a keloid?
posted by banannafish at 8:04 PM on June 29, 2007

I've had something similar for about 5 years.

I assume it's a the cocoon of a glorious something, churning unseen. Or tumors.
posted by OrangeDrink at 8:08 PM on June 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think it's probably a cyst of some sort. I've had them in the skin of my neck a couple of times. It seems quite probable, although I have no training to base this on, only what the doctor told me, that it is a probably a sebaceous cyst. As far as I am aware, in and of themselves, they are quite harmless. It's probably worth keeping an eye on, but probably wise not to mess around with it too much.
posted by howfar at 8:10 PM on June 29, 2007

Sorry about editing that post so badly! It's 4:14 and I just got in from work, must be more tired than I though.
posted by howfar at 8:15 PM on June 29, 2007

Probably some type of pimple.
posted by thelongcon at 8:19 PM on June 29, 2007

I had one of those, so I stuck the point of a scalpel in there until it hit something, then squeezed out a kind of pearl-like ossified mass about 1/16" across. It healed up fine and never came back.

However, AskMe hates it when I recommend self-surgery no matter how minor, so don't do that, ignore it until it either hurts or you're at the doctor for something else.
posted by nicwolff at 8:47 PM on June 29, 2007 [6 favorites]

In my experience it usually goes away after a while, and anecdotally I've found that it often shows up after I've either had a lot of deep fried food, or after a period of prolonged stress, so I also think it's pretty much some kind of pimple.

I find that drinking a lot of water and keeping myself hydrated in general helps it go away after a week or so.
posted by every_one_needs_a_hug_sometimes at 8:59 PM on June 29, 2007

I have similar lumps in both my earlobes... Went to the doctor and they said some people just get em and not to worry unless they start growing in size...
I've had em for 3+ years with no probs or pain... They're just there.
posted by jammnrose at 9:03 PM on June 29, 2007

Best answer: Another data point here: one in my left, been there for as long as I can remember, never hurts or grows.

Maybe we're all part of a secret society that's so secret we're not even allowed to know that we're in it?
posted by twirlypen at 9:15 PM on June 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

I've gotten these on occasion, and don't have pierced ears. They're either keloid scars or some kind of internal pimple type thing, and probably nothing to worry about. Ask your doctor next time you're there for some other reason; he or she is bound to tell you the same.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:32 PM on June 29, 2007

i have them in both and one predates piercing about 20 years ago because i remember the piercer-person getting frustrated with moving it out of the way. Anyway, I got bored with putting earrings in the holes and they mostly shut up, but nearly every day I can squeeze some crap out. On the other hand, or I should say breast, I have had a sebaceous cyst on my side near my left breast. The lump was much larger, it was sometimes painful and when productive, there is much more stuff that comes out of that.

Um, short answer - I don't know but I hope OrangeDrink is wrong.
posted by b33j at 9:35 PM on June 29, 2007

when I get these in my ears, they're pimples.
posted by kdar at 10:10 PM on June 29, 2007

I used to have something like that, but I can't find it now. My last trip to the dermatologist didn't find anything, either.

In other words, it's probably a temporary cyst-like-thing, but only your doctor can say for sure.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:31 PM on June 29, 2007

Yeah I have those too! For me, they mostly just go away after a while but reform every few months. I had both my ears pierced when I was 7 so I can't remember if the lumps were present before then.

With mine, I can squeeze it (like a pimple) and pus will come out (like a pimple!). So my conclusion is that it is some sort of strange ear-pimple.

Don't worry too much about it, since it does not hurt. If it starts hurting, go to see the doctor (obviously! :P) but if not, just let it be. :)
posted by Mrs PuGZ at 11:47 PM on June 29, 2007

I get an ear lump every few years for a few weeks, and they disappear some time after I stop obsessing over them. I'd make a note of how big you think it is, and re-check every year or two.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:50 AM on June 30, 2007

I;ve had these too, just cysts, like pimples but deeper. It's a pain for piercing them (something I like to do a lot, and in really really large sizes). I find they flareup during stressfull periods more. Doctor has told me not a lot we can do about them but wait.
posted by chrisbucks at 3:04 AM on June 30, 2007

I've got one of those on the back of each of my ears around the holes where they've been pierced for 11 years. T
he one on my right ear came up about 9 years ago as a result of healing from infections (presumably from wearing cheap earrings) - my doctors told me they're nothing more than scar tissue from the healing process. The one on my left ear appeared at about the same time, so I always assumed it was from an infection, but I've been assured that they are not necessarily cause by infections. They can just be as a result of your ears healing from being pierced.

If they get in the way, you can easily get them lanced - but I never got around to it, and they have been (slowly) shrinking in size - which more or less supports the scar tissue argument.
posted by cholly at 5:13 AM on June 30, 2007

keloid or some kind of calcified zit. if it's painful to squeeze, it might be a cystic zit. a dermatologist can set your mind at ease.
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:46 AM on June 30, 2007

I've got a small firm lump up near the top of my ear, not on the lobe. It's been there for about ten years and has never changed in size or shape. It doesn't hurt and isn't red, and nothing happens if I poke at it. And I've never had a piercing there.

Like OrangeDrink, I have always assumed it's a tiny, tiny alien just waiting for the right moment to burst free.
posted by emmastory at 5:51 AM on June 30, 2007

It's an alien/NSA/Illuminati mind control/tracking/explosive device!!1!!!

Ahem. I've got something like this; like a ball bearing is floating in the lobe of my left ear, though it seems to like to hide; maybe it's dissolving and reforming over time, or moving to where it's harder to feel like my brain.

Anyway, it's been there on and off for over a decade and I'm still alive. I've never (knowingly) had my ears pierced.
posted by Freaky at 10:18 AM on June 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

I had a cyst in my back & one in my hand. The one in my back used to be big but has got so much smaller over the years that I can't even find it anymore. I had the one in my hand surgically removed because it hurt when I would drive or push a shopping cart. Coincidentally, another friend of mine had a cyst in the exact same place on her hand at the same time. Her doctor chose to get rid of hers by poking and draining it -- it was gone for about a year but has since grown back.

If you go to the doctor & it's a cyst they may suggest one of those options... to either drain it or cut it out. Just be aware if you get it drained that there is a chance it may return. And if you get it surgically removed it'll be gone forever but you'll also have a lot bigger doctor bill.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:29 AM on June 30, 2007

In middle school I had a lump in my left ear that started growing until it eventually touched the side of my neck and I convinced my mother to pony up for a doctor visit. It was a cyst, benign but perpetually inflamed, and they cut it out. A half decade later I got a second bump in the same place, which also became inflamed, and I forced it out like a pimple but without benefit of a scalpel. It was a long slow painful process--surprisingly, given how little skin there is on an earlobe--and resulted in the ejection of some small rock-hard mass about the size of a dull pencil lead. Whatever it was, in the last decade and a half it hasn't come back.

As a poor college student I felt fine doctoring myself but I'm not sure I would recommend it to anyone else. ^_^
posted by Tuwa at 11:29 AM on June 30, 2007

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