Swollen Ear Lobe, Symptoms, Causes, Red Itchy, Infection & Treatment

My ear lobe has been swollen for a week and it does not seem to get better, what could be the cause of these? To start with, having a swollen ear lobe can be painful and discomforting. This could be an infection after piercing the ear lobe to cellulitis to many other causes. The symptoms include a red, itchy and swollen ear lobe. Read through to find out more causes and treatment on how to get rid of the swelling.

A swollen ear lobe ma cause your ear to feel warm, inflamed and tender. In most cases, the inflammation is attributed to an infection. This occurs when bacteria, viruses or microorganism enter your body. The immune system is responsible for fighting this microorganism causing infection. It is also common for the lymph nodes around the ear to swell and get inflamed as a result of this. You therefore have to note that, the swelling, redness, warmth are the typically symptoms of the infection.

Related articles:

  1. Swollen Ear Canal Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
  2. Lump behind Ear Lobe Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
  3. Swollen Lymph Nodes behind Ear Causes and Treatment

A swollen ear lobe can also be as a result of otitis media, this is the inflammation of the inner ear. The result of these could be the inflammation of the swollen lymph gland around the ear. What follows will be the inflammation of the ear lobe. This could be painful and discomforting. You need to see your health care provider for early diagnosis to establish the cause of the swelling and facilitate the treatment of how to get rid of the swelling.

What then are some of the things you could do to sooth the lobe and reduce the severe itching on the ear lobe? A part from treating the swelling in a hospital you could try some home remedies. The healing might not be instant but the remedy help reduce the pain, the inflammation and speed the healing process.

What does a swollen ear lobe mean?

Do you have an inflamed painful ear lobe? Swollen ear lobe may be accompanied by fever and redness around your ear. The inflammation can be an indication of serious infection that should prompt you to contact your health care provider. It is possible for you to experience tenderness at the back of your ear. This could be a possible sign of mastoiditis, an infection of the mastoid bone behind ear.

It is possible for most ear infection to heal on their own or with simple over the counter antibiotics. Some symptoms of the swelling will warrant immediate medical attention whereas other can be left for some time and ease the pain caused using simple home remedies.

When to seek immediate medical attention.

You need to see your health care provider as soon as you notice the following symptoms start to appear. The symptoms are indicative of a serious underlying condition that need to be treated as soon as possible to avoid the spread of the infection and avoid life threatening complication.  Diagnosis and treatment of the underlying medical infection is key in getting rid of the swelling behind ear. The symptom are as follows:

Symptoms of a swollen ear lobe

A swollen ear lobe is not an infection, it is a possible sign of an underlying infection. You need to see your health care provider as soon as possible for early medication to avoid the spread to other tissues and become life threating. The symptoms to watch for are the following;

  • Swelling of the throat
  • Difficulties in breathing
  • High fever
  • Severe pain and headache
  • Swelling of the skin around the ear
  • Redness around the ear
  • Tenderness behind ear.

Pictures, images of a swollen ear lobe

The pictures inserted in this post are to help you understand and identify the cause of your symptoms. Below is an image of a swollen ear lobe.

Ear Lobe Swollen Picture
Ear Lobe Swollen Picture

Causes of swollen ear lobe

I have had a swollen ear lobe for a week now and it does not seem to get better, what could be causing the swelling? Does the swelling on my ear lobe mean i have skin cancer? For now, you must have realized that, an inflammation of the ear lobe is not an infection on its own, rather, it is a symptom of an underlying health complication.

If you have some of the symptoms such redness, scratchy and cyst ear lobe you need to get diagnosed to establish what might be causing the swelling on your ear lobe. Treating the underlying cause of the inflammation is the best way to treating and getting rid of the inflammation.

The most common causes of a swollen ear lobe could be one or a combination of the following;

1. Cellulitis

Cellulitis is an infection of the deeper layer of the skin and the underlying body tissue. If this condition is not diagnosed and treated early, it could lead to a serious health complication.

It is very common for cellulitis to develop suddenly and spread quickly to other body part. This could be life threatening if lots of care is not taken.

You could treat it with   simple over the counter medication like antibiotics. Also painkillers may help reduce the pain in the skin. Take note, you need to see you doctor.

2. Ear piercing

For most people, the most common cause of a swollen ear lobe. It is possible for you to experience pain after a piercing procedure. What follows is the swelling of the ear lobe which may also lead to the lobe becoming, reddish. The swelling might go away after a few day but if it fails to do so please see your doctor

You should be very careful on the object you use for the piecing, make sure they are sterilized in hot water and rinsed in antiseptics such as mentholated spirit. Avoid sharing sharp piecing object to avoid the risk of transmitted infection.

Ear Lobe Piercing Swollen
Ear Lobe Piercing Swollen

After piecing make sure you apply spirit on the wound. Hydrogen peroxide may also be used. If a wound develops after 2 days of piercing, visit a doctor for a tetanus injection.

3. Otitis externa

Otitis externa is a medical condition that causes the inflammation of the external ear canal (the tube between the outer and eardrum). It is mostly referred to as” swimmers ear” because exposure to water can make the ear canal more vulnerable to this kind of infection.

You need to see your health care provider when you notice the following symptoms;

  • Severe ear pain
  • Itchy ear canal
  • Pus start to come out of your ear
  • For worst case, you may start to loss hearing power.

Once you visit your doctor, and treatment starts, the swollen ear may be ok after some days.

4. Auto immune disorder

Auto immune disease is a chronic condition that in most cases has no cure. An auto immune disease develops when your body immune system, which helps defends your body against infection. Your body has antibodies for this, but when at time they decide to fight healthy cells as foreign the results is an auto immune disorder. These may affect one or more of your body tissue.

The symptoms of the disorder my include the following;

  • Peeling of the skin
  • Swelling of the body tissue
  • Swollen lymph glands

There is no medical remedy for an auto immune disorder, but to help reduce the chance of the occurrence of an auto immune disorder, you could try the following; you could

  • Eat a balance diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Take vitamins supplements
  • Reduce you general stress

5. Abscess or pimple

A small cyst behind the ear can be caused by non- cancerous lumps that tend to rise beneath the skin. Sebaceous or epidermoid cysts are often painless and tend to cause no problem at all such that they do not warrant any treatment. However, if the cyst appears to bother you or it’s painful, you may choose to have it removed through a surgical procedure.

Sebaceous cyst appear as a small, round bump under the skin. The cause of sebaceous cyst occurs when cells move deeper into your skin and tend to increase in number rather than sloughing off. In the process, the cells produce keratin: a thick yellow fluid that drains into the cyst behind the ear.

Abscess on Ear Lobe
Abscess on Ear Lobe

If you have a damaged hair follicle or oil gland, the abnormal multiplication of cells is linked as the cause, this consequently forms a cyst behind your ear. If the sebaceous cyst is infected, it will develop into abscesses causing a severe inflammation. This will necessitate medical treatment since the cyst is pus filled, smelly and painful.

6. Allergic reaction 

Another possible reason for having a swollen ear lobe could be allergic reaction to skin product or foods. For those who wear earing, most of them contain nickel, which over time has been found to cause allergic reaction to the skin. When this happens this could be a cause for an inflammation of the ear lobe.

Using earing that do not contain nickel is helpful in reducing the swelling. Tis kind of swelling can be painful, cause bleeding of the ear lobe and cause a lot of discomfort.

To avoid this, discontinue using such earing and get a tetanus injection from your health care provider.

7. Ear infection

The other possible cause of a swollen ear lobe is an ear infection. An ear infection occurs when a bacterial or a viral infection affects the ear. This could be painful due to the inflammation and buildup of fluids in the ear.

This could be chronic. It may fail to clear up in time that means you need to see your health care provider as soon as possible. Treating the cause of the infection is key in getting rid of the swelling on your ear lobe.

Please see you doctor if the pain and swelling does not go away or seem to recur.

8. Ear cancer

Cancer can appear anywhere in your body. Some types of cancer causes the lymph nodes to swell. This could be a sign of blood cancer (leukemia) and lymphoma that cause the malignant cells to flow through the whole body. Once the swelling is trapped behind the ears, a growth or tumor might develop there.

Cancer can appear in the lymph nodes in two way; it can either start from there or it can spread there from other body parts. Lymphoma is cancer that starts from the lymph nodes spreading to other parts.

When cancer breaks and spread from a tumor, they can travel to other areas of your body through the lymph system or the bloodstream. If the travel ids through though the lymph system, the cancer can finally find its way to the lymph nodes causing them to swell and become enlarged. This spread of cancer to other parts forming new tumor is called metastasis

Although the symptoms will vary depending with the type and stage of the cancer causing the swelling of the lymph nodes behind ears, the most common symptoms will include:

  • Fever
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Enlarged lymph nodes behind ears
  • Weight loss
  • Night sweats

Please visit your health care provider if the above symptoms persist.

8. Bug or insect bites

Insect bites are common and usually cause only minor irritation. However, some stings can be painful and trigger a serious allergic reaction. When the insect bites, it releases a saliva that cause the skin around the bite to become red, swollen and itchy. Though painful, it is harmless most of the cases.

You need to immediately see your doctor if you notice the following symptoms:

  • wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • nausea
  • a fast heart rate
  • dizziness or feeling faint
  • confusion, anxiety or agitation

8. Cauliflower ear

Cauliflower ear is the external deformation of the ear. The most common would be through punch on the air. This leads to hematomas, small collection of blood that clot and block the flow of blood and nutrients. The same result could be due to the skin cartilage being pulled out from their normal shape. This are the tissues that give the ear their shape.

Cauliflower Ear
Cauliflower Ear

You need not to worry, cauliflower can easily be avoided and treated at home. Simple remedy such as warm compress can help reduce the pain and inflammation. You could also try some anti-inflammatory spry and creams such deep heat spry.

9. Mastoiditis

A lump behind the ear can occur as a result of infection in the mastoid bone. This is a condition commonly in children and tends to spread to the mastoid bone found at the back of your ear. The symptoms include protruding swelling presenting either small or large pimple like sacks. If you have mastoiditis, the infected bumps behind the ear is associated with fever, ear pain and redness.

Mastoditis Infection on Ear
Mastoditis Infection on Ear

If left untreated, possible serious problem can occur including hearing loss or impairment. Treatment involves use of intravenous antibiotics to help drainage of the fluid filled in the cyst. You need to see your doctor as soon as you notice the above symptoms.

Itchy red swollen ear lobe

Itchy red swollen ear lobe can be discomforting. The pain and irritation can be unbearable. If you notice the symptoms fail to go way, you need to get tested and identify the actual cause of the swelling. The causes may vary from person to person, and may include a wide range from a simple insect bite.

To reduce the pain, you could apply some simple over the counter anti-itching or anti-inflammatory creams. Are a simple warm compress.

Swollen ear lobe for no reason

My ear lobe has been swollen for some time now, I have no other symptoms apart from the inflammation of my ear lobe causing a lump like cyst to form. What could be the cause of this? At times our bodies tend to react to itself.

Our bodies have a lot of antibodies (which help in fighting infection) at times this antibodies reacts and start to “fight to each other” this my exhibit itself as an inflammation on some parts of the body. This condition is known as auto immune disorder.

Though harmless, the condition can be dangerous with time, you need to see your doctor to establish that the swelling is as a result of auto immune disorder and not any other infection or medical complication. Your doctor will be able to diagnose you and prescribe the best medication.

Refer to the treatment of the auto immune disorder above.

Swollen ear lobe and lymph nodes

Swollen lymph nodes start as bumps in the back of your ear, this can be a sign of leukemia and lymphoma: a form of cancer that present itself as swollen lymph nodes. Although the cyst behind the ear might not be painful, it could signify a more complicated health problem. Salivary gland cancer and or skin cancer tend to grow as malignant cells behind the ear.

Bacterial or viral infection around the ear leads to swelling of lymph nodes behind the ear. Small and soft bumps sometime painful when touched and would appear behind the ear, this can be accompanied by fatigue and or fever.

If you have a cold/flu, strep throat or sinusitis, your lymph nodes behind the ear and cheeks tend to swell. Infection stimulates the body to produce more white blood cells to fight infection

Swollen ear lobe treatment

How do I treat swollen ear lobe? What is the best way to get rid of the inflammation of my ear lobe? As we have already established now, a swollen ear lobe is not an infection on its own, but rather a symptom of an underlying infection.

Once you notice the symptoms are getting severe, you need to consult your health care provider as soon as possible, treating the underlying cause is the best way to treating the swelling. To treat the specific cause of the swelling, please refer to the above topics on the causes of the swelling on ear lobe.

Take note you should avoid self-medicating yourself. This could lead to medical complications and cause a life threating situations.

Home remedies to get rid of swollen ear lobe

It is very important to note that, treating the underlying cause of the inflammation on your ear lobe is the best way to getting rid of the inflammation. Apart from the subscription from your health care provider there exist some simple home remedies that will help ease the pain, reduce the inflammation and speed the healing process of the inflammation.

Having a life style change is also important to avoiding the swelling on your ear lobe from recurring in the future. You should maintain a balance diet and take in lots of fruits to help strengthen your immune system. You could try one or a combination of the following;

a) Honey and tea

Honey is natural remedy that can help you treat swollen lymph nodes behind ear. The anti-inflammatory property will help you ease pain and swelling. In addition, honey has antibacterial property that will help fight the infection that is likely causing the swelling of the lymph nodes.

  1. Mix a teaspoon of row honey and fresh lemon juice in a cup of water.
  2. Drink this mixture twice daily for a week or two
  • You could also apply some raw honey behind your ear where the lymph nodes are swelling. Allow it to sit for 20 min then rinse it off with warm water.
  1. Do this for a week every morning and evening.

b) A warm compress

Warm compress the sebaceous cyst to speed up the healing process. A little warmth helps to drain the cyst fast and reduce swelling. Here’s how to remove the cyst:

  1. Use a piece of clean towel or cloth
  2. Soak the towel in warm water
  3. Apply/compress the warm towel onto the cyst for about 10 – 15 minutes
  4. Repeat the procedure above at least twice daily

c) Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is popularly known for its skin benefits and generally as a medicinal plant that is good for your health. Aloe Vera has anti-inflammatory and anti – bacterial properties that helps to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Here’s how to use aloe Vera to remove cyst behind ear.

  1. Get gel from fresh cut aloe Vera plant
  2. Apply the gel directly to the cyst
  3. Rub gently on the area to help it penetrate deep into the infected cyst
  4. Do this twice daily for effective result.

d) Mixture of salty water

Salt can also be used to reverse the pain and reduce the inflammation of lymph nodes behind the ear. This is simple, dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in a cup of water and use the mixture to gargle. Repeat this a few times for optimal results.

Take note, avoid putting too much salt on the water, this might lead to irritating the wound, especially these that result from ear lobe piercing. A tea spoon of salt in a 500ml of water is a nice ratio.

Treatment for insect bite

Insect bites and sting do not call for immediate medical attention. Simple home remedies will easily get rid of the pain, itchiness and swelling. You could compress the area with ice for 20 minute.

Over the counter anti allergic pills could also help reduce the swelling and itching. Benadryl is a good type of those pills, and it is easily available.

You could also apply you skin with calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream to ease the redness, itching and swelling. Please do not use hydrocortisone creams on younger kids.

Sources and references


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