The outsides of our ears have many curves that are designed to help us take in and understand sound waves. But sometimes our outer ears have abnormalities. If you’ve noticed that you have a small growth near your ear’s entrance and you’re not sure what it is or what caused it, this article is for you.
Before we dive in any further, don’t panic—it’s likely that you just have a preauricular skin tag. Let’s discuss what that means, the potential implications, and your options for treating preauricular skin tags that are bothering you.
What Are Preauricular Skin Tags?
Sometimes referred to as ear tags, accessory tragus, or preauricular pits, preauricular skin tags are small, benign growths of skin that usually appear near the front of your ear where your ear attaches to your face. While preauricular skin tags can be harmless, they are sometimes a phenotypic or observable genetic marker of a probable hearing issue or kidney issue.
Preauricular skin tags are a common abnormality—1 in 100 to 1 in 1000 newborns are born with them. The skin tags can vary in size, shape, and appearance, and they’re usually painless. However, they can become irritated if they get caught on clothing and accessories.
Causes of Preauricular Skin Tags
So, what causes preauricular skin tags? Well, that’s still up for debate. But most of the time, preauricular skin tags develop in the mother’s womb and are evident at birth. They can be on one or both ears. When parts of the ear don’t fully come together, there’s a higher risk of skin tags.
Some doctors theorize that preauricular skin tags could be remnants of embryonic tissue from early fetal development. The development of skin tags can be influenced by a genetic disposition as well as by environmental factors.
Common Concerns About Preauricular Skin Tags
Some people may not be concerned about their preauricular skin tags at all, especially if they’re small and not very noticeable. Since they’re usually benign and don’t indicate an underlying health issue, the most common concern people have about skin tags is their cosmetic appearance. If they’re large and prominent, some individuals may feel self-conscious about them—especially if they can’t be easily hidden behind hair.
And sometimes, preauricular skin tags can become infected or irritated if they get caught and snagged on clothing or jewelry. This can cause swelling and discomfort. If your skin tag is larger, you could deal with this more often.
Managing Preauricular Skin Tags
In some cases, preauricular skin tags are totally harmless and don’t require any medical intervention. In this case, if the tag isn’t causing any discomfort, it can be left alone.
If you have a preauricular skin tag that becomes irritated or infected, you should contact your healthcare provider. They’ll be able to determine whether or not the tag needs to be removed. If your doctor does deem that a tag needs to be removed, the procedure is simple and can be performed quickly under local anesthesia.
And if your preauricular skin tag is associated with other conditions, like hearing loss, further evaluation might be necessary. Your healthcare provider may refer you to your audiologist for additional testing and treatment.
If it’s determined after a comprehensive hearing assessment that you have a hearing loss, your audiologist may recommend hearing aids. Hearing aids can dramatically improve your quality of life and allow you to communicate with others with ease.
If you or a loved one has preauricular skin tags and is experiencing symptoms of hearing loss, we can help. Thousands of patients across Utah and Nevada trust our expert Doctors of Audiology with their hearing health. We’re proud to offer the latest in hearing aid technology to help you hear your best life.
If you’d like to schedule an appointment or if you have questions that you think we might be able to answer, you can call us at the Hearing & Balance Center nearest you. You can reach our Utah location at (435) 688-8991 or our Nevada location at (702) 896-0031. Or, request a callback.