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.
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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Anyone can get a keloid on their ear. However, you’re more likely to develop a keloid on your ear if:
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 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:
Ear keloids usually form after you injure the skin on your ear. Injuries that may cause a keloid on your ear include:
Keloids aren’t contagious. A virus or bacteria don’t cause them. They’re a type of scar tissue that develops after an injury.
A keloid on your ear is easy to recognize. Your healthcare provider will typically diagnose it with a simple physical examination of your ear.
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.
Your healthcare provider may suggest one or more of the following to help you get rid of a keloid on your ear:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
See your healthcare provider as soon as you notice any unexpected growth on your ears.
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.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/22/2022.
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