Medical Q&As

Lump behind ear - what could it be?

I have a lump the size of a ping pong ball behind my ear. It looks like a part of my bone coming out and it is hard but not sore at all. What could it be?

There are a number of possible diagnoses here. The lump could be a swollen lymph gland, a lipoma or a sebaceous cyst. The fact that it is painless excludes the possibility of it being an abscess because they tend to throb with pain and can be quite tender. You say that it is the size of a ping pong ball, which is quite large for a lump behind the ear. You give no indication as to how long the lump is present however; I would suggest that you visit your doctor in order to have the nature of the lump identified. On the balance of probability it is likely to be a sebaceous cyst, which is a benign harmless swelling that contains cheese-like material. These cysts usually occur on the face, neck and trunk. They tend to be slow growing and are usually freely movable under the skin. Sebaceous cysts do not require treatment unless they become infected or become very large. Probably the commonest indication for removing them would be cosmetic. Sebaceous cysts can reduce in size and disappear. However, I stress again that it would be advisable for your GP to examine the lump and confirm the diagnosis.