Although small, painless bumps on the top of your ears may not seem like a threat to your well-being, exposure to sunlight or squeezing the bumps often results in the need for surgery. Recognize how to care for bumps on the ears to protect your health and notify your physician before taking any remedy to alleviate skin problems.
Sebaceous cysts, sometimes referred to as epidermoid cysts, are white or yellow bumps that grow slowly underneath the skin on your ears, face and genitals, although they may also appear on your fingernails and other body parts. The bumps typically do not cause pain or require a doctor's care, although in some cases an infection will necessitate surgical treatment to prevent scarring. Some sebaceous cysts lead to skin cancer.
Your risk increases for sebaceous bumps on the top of your ears if you have acne or spend significant time in the sun, or if you suffer a traumatic skin injury. Males who have completed puberty have a higher chance for the condition than women or those who have yet to undergo puberty. Some oil-based cosmetics and creams trigger tiny sebaceous cysts called milia. The tiny bumps can also occur when your skin suffers extreme damage from the sun.
An infected sebaceous or epidermoid bump on your ear often secretes a heavy yellow substance that carries an unpleasant smell. You may notice redness and tender areas around the bump, as well as a small opening in the bump that is plugged by a blackhead. Ear bumps that rupture require prompt care. Some people with sebaceous cysts that become solid or infected develop squamous or basal skin cancer.
Avoid squeezing or picking at sebaceous cysts on your ears to lower your risk of rupture or infection. Help your doctor determine the appropriate treatment for problem ear bumps by making a list of your medications, including any herbal supplements or vitamins. Notify your doctor if you've experienced significant acne, a severe skin injury or a previous sebaceous cyst on your body.
Your doctor may suggest allowing an ear bump that doesn't cause discomfort or show signs of inflammation or infection to heal naturally. Bumps that require medical attention typically receive surgical drainage or total excision. In some cases, corticosteroid injections will offer relief without the need for surgery, while treatment to vaporize a sebaceous ear bump takes place with a carbon dioxide laser and can reduce your risk for scarring.
While sebaceous bumps on the ears can't be prevented, limiting your time in the sun and discontinuing the use of oil-free cosmetics lessens your chance for the tiny cysts called milia, according to MayoClinic.com. Seek a doctor's care if you experience bumps on the ears that grow quickly and occur with discomfort.
- Merck Manuals: Epidermal Cysts
- Massachusetts General Hospital: Conditions & Treatments: Sebaceous Cysts
- MedlinePlus: Sebaceous Cyst
- American Academy of Dermatology: Common Growths
- MayoClinic.com: Epidermoid Cysts (Sebaceous Cysts): Symptoms
- MayoClinic.com: Epidermoid Cysts (Sebaceous Cysts): Treatments And Drugs