Keloid on Ear

A keloid on your ear is a type of scar tissue that forms after an injury. Ear piercings are the most common cause of ear keloids. Ear keloids are difficult to remove because they often grow back. Combining multiple types of treatments improves your chances of permanent removal.


What is a keloid on the ear?

An ear keloid is a type of fibrous scar tissue that forms after an injury. Unlike other types of raised scars, an ear keloid extends beyond the original injured area. They can form anywhere on your ear, including earlobes, cartilage or behind your ears. Most people who have ear keloids develop them after getting their ears pierced.


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Who do ear keloids affect?

Anyone can get a keloid on their ear. However, you’re more likely to develop a keloid on your ear if:

  • You’re Black, Hispanic or Asian.
  • You have ear piercings.
  • You have a family history of keloids.

How do ear keloids affect my body?

Keloids on your ear usually don’t hurt. However, they may itch or feel tender if you touch them, especially as they’re growing. They may become irritated if you accidentally touch them or they rub against your clothes.

Ear keloids may also make you feel self-conscious or insecure about your appearance. You may experience emotional stress, anxiety or depression.


Symptoms and Causes

Common causes of keloids on your ear, including acne, tattoos, scratches, piercings, bug bites, cuts, chickenpox and burns.
Common causes of ear keloids.

What are the symptoms of an ear keloid?

Ear keloids develop slowly — they may take three to 12 months to become noticeable. They also feel different from your surrounding skin. They may feel soft and squishy. Or they may feel firm and rubbery. They’re also shiny, smooth and darker than your surrounding skin.

Small ear keloids may raise as much as one-quarter of an inch above your skin. Massive ear keloids may be larger than the surface area of your ear.

Other symptoms of keloids on your ear may include:

  • Itchy.
  • Tender.
  • Discolored (pink, red, purple or brown).
  • Get darker in color as it grows.
  • Round shape.

What causes a keloid on my ear?

Ear keloids usually form after you injure the skin on your ear. Injuries that may cause a keloid on your ear include:

  • Cuts.
  • Burns.
  • Scratches.
  • Piercings.
  • Tattoos.
  • Acne.
  • Chickenpox.
  • Bug bites.


Are ear keloids contagious?

Keloids aren’t contagious. A virus or bacteria don’t cause them. They’re a type of scar tissue that develops after an injury.

Diagnosis and Tests

How are ear keloids diagnosed?

A keloid on your ear is easy to recognize. Your healthcare provider will typically diagnose it with a simple physical examination of your ear.

What tests will be done to diagnose ear keloids?

You typically won’t need any tests to diagnose a keloid on your ear. However, if your healthcare provider is uncertain, they may recommend a skin biopsy. A skin biopsy will make sure that your growth isn’t another condition that looks like an ear keloid, such as dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP). DFSP is a type of skin cancer.

Management and Treatment

How do you get rid of a keloid on your ear?

Your healthcare provider may suggest one or more of the following to help you get rid of a keloid on your ear:

  • Corticosteroids. Corticosteroids reduce inflammation and tissue damage. Your healthcare provider will use a small needle to inject corticosteroids into the keloid. They’ll schedule injections every four to six weeks. You may need up to four injections or more to shrink the keloid. Side effects of injected corticosteroids may include thinning of your skin and the development of dilated blood vessels in the injected area.
  • Surgery. Your healthcare provider will use a surgical knife with a thin blade (scalpel) to remove your ear keloid. If you have a small keloid on your ear, your healthcare provider can remove it at their office after numbing your ear with local anesthesia. If your ear keloid is large, your healthcare provider may refer you to a dermatologist, who’ll remove the keloid in an operating room. They’ll give you general anesthesia so you aren’t awake during the procedure.
  • Cryotherapy. Your healthcare provider will apply extreme cold to a keloid on your ear, which freezes and destroys it. You may need several cryotherapy treatments.
  • Ligature. Your healthcare provider will tie surgical thread tightly around the base of your keloid. Your healthcare provider must replace the thread every two to three weeks until your keloid eventually falls off.
  • Laser treatment. Your healthcare provider will use a laser to remove a keloid on your ear. Laser treatments can also help improve the discoloration associated with keloids.
  • Radiation therapy. After your healthcare provider surgically removes a keloid from your ear, they use strong radiation beams to prevent it from coming back. You may need several treatments. Treatments may take place immediately after surgery or up to a week after.
  • Pressure earrings. Pressure earrings (Zimmer splints) put pressure on your earlobe to reduce blood flow, which prevents the keloid from developing or coming back after treatment. Pressure earrings can be uncomfortable, and you must wear them for up to 16 hours every day for six to 12 months for them to be effective.

Ear keloids are challenging to treat, and they may even come back after treatment. Your healthcare provider may recommend using two or more kinds of treatment to improve your results.

If you feel self-conscious about a keloid on your ear, you can hide it with certain hairstyles, wigs, hair weaves or clothing until you get or complete treatment.

Can you pop an ear keloid?

It may be very tempting to squeeze an ear keloid. However, you can’t pop an ear keloid. Ear keloids are a type of scar tissue, so there isn’t any pus to squeeze out, like a pimple. Trying to pop a keloid on your ear can damage your skin and introduce bacteria, which can cause an infection.

Do ear keloids go away on their own?

Keloids on your ear grow slowly. They may take up to 12 months before they become noticeable, and they may continue to grow for years. They’ll eventually stop growing, but they won’t go away without treatment.

Should I remove my earring if I have a keloid?

Your ear will hurt after you get an ear piercing. Earlobe piercings take six to eight weeks to heal, and cartilage piercings may take four to 12 months to heal. During this time, you should leave your earrings in day and night until the piercing has fully healed to prevent an infection.

If a keloid develops around your ear piercing after the piercing has healed, contact a healthcare provider. They may recommend that you take your earring out right away and wear a pressure earring. Or they may recommend that you keep your earring in until they’re able to conduct a physical examination of your ear.


How can I prevent a keloid on my ear?

The best way to prevent a keloid on your ear is to avoid any injuries to your ears.

If you want to get your ears pierced, it’s a good idea to pay attention to your ears as they’re healing. Contact your healthcare provider right away if the skin around your piercing starts to swell or feel squishy or rubbery.

Outlook / Prognosis

What can I expect if I have a keloid on my ear?

Ear keloids may be uncomfortable and make you feel self-conscious, but they won’t affect your overall physical health. If you have a keloid on your ear, you can generally manage it with consistent treatment. You may need multiple treatments to keep it from coming back. Be sure to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions and schedule follow-up appointments to monitor your progress.

Living With

When should I see my healthcare provider?

See your healthcare provider as soon as you notice any unexpected growth on your ears.

What questions should I ask my healthcare provider?

  • Can I pierce my ears if I have a family history of ear keloids?
  • Should I remove my earrings if I have a keloid?
  • If I have a keloid on my ear, am I more likely to develop keloids on other parts of my body?
  • How can you tell that I have a keloid on my ear?
  • If I don’t have a keloid on my ear, what other skin condition might I have?
  • What kind of treatment do you recommend?
  • How do I take care of my skin after treatment?
  • How likely is it that my keloid will come back?
  • Should I see a dermatologist or another specialist?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Ear keloids are a type of scar tissue that develops after an injury to your ear, especially ear piercings. Not everyone will develop an ear keloid after an injury. A keloid on your ear usually doesn’t hurt, but it may itch or feel uncomfortable, and you may feel self-conscious about it. Reach out to your healthcare provider as soon as you notice any unexplained growths on your skin, especially if they make you uncomfortable. Treatments are available to remove ear keloids, but you may need multiple treatments to ensure they don’t come back.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 08/22/2022.

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