Causes of an earlobe bump

Updated June 13, 2017

Bumps on the ear lobe are rarely serious and usually go away without any intervention. However, these bumps can be painful, especially for people who must use earplugs, headphones or other protective hearing equipment and other devices or coverings that go over the ears. Understanding the causes of ear lobe bumps can help prevent the onset of more bumps in the future.

Skin Disorders

Disorders of the skin on the ear lobe can result in an ear lobe bump. Epidermoid cysts are small bumps that develop under the skin and can be moved around with the fingers and are usually painless. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, epidermoid cysts can sometimes become cancerous and require medical evaluation. Benign cysts, such as sebaceous cysts, can develop on the ear lobe, resulting in pain or discomfort. According to the National Library of Medicine, sebaceous cysts result from a collection of dead skin cells and oil produced in the oil glands of the skin and can develop on the ear lobe or even inside the ear canal. Swollen or inflamed hair follicles on the ear lobe can develop into a condition referred to as folliculitis, which can also result in ear lobe bumps.


Trauma to the ear lobe can result in a bump on the lobe. A cut or scratch on the ear can lead to an ear lobe bump as the wound heals. Trauma that results from an insect bite or sting might cause a temporary bump on the ear lobe that could get worse if the area is scratched or rubbed. Injuries to the ear lobe, such as getting punched or hit with an object can also result in a bump. Attempts to pierce the ear lobe with non-sterile equipment can also result in a bump in the ear lobe and can also lead to infections, which can make the bump worse. Inserting dirty objects into the ear lobe such as metal rings, studs or bars can also result in ear lobe bumps, especially if the items are forced into the ear lobe without any previous piercing hole for the item to go through.

Infections and Irritants

People with an infected cyst on the ear lobe can also develop a bump; the original cyst might grow larger as a result of the infection and become more painful, swollen and tender to the touch. Folliculitis can also cause infections on the ear lobe, which can lead to ear lobe bumps. Excessive exposure to the sun can irritate the oil glands in the skin and result in a bump on the ear lobe, especially since the ear lobes are not often covered with sunscreen compared to other parts of the body. Use of beauty products such as facial creams or soaps can irritate the skin of the ear lobe in some people and cause a bump to develop. In addition, wearing earrings or other ear jewellery can cause irritations to the ear lobe that result in the development of a bump. People with acne on the ear lobes might develop bumps if the acne lesions are picked at or squeezed.

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About the Author

Jessica Lietz has been writing about health-related topics since 2009. She has several years of experience in genetics research, survey design, analysis and epidemiology, working on both infectious and chronic diseases. Lietz holds a Master of Public Health in epidemiology from The Ohio State University.