Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"I noticed a lentil-sized firm lump under my skin underneath my right ear. "


It started smaller a couple months ago. There seems to be a smaller one under my left ear. No skin discoloration or sensitivity, and my general health is excellent. How concerned should I be? Already booked an appointment to get it checked out.


This is most likely a lymph node. There are multiple lymph nodes in this region of the body (called the postauricular - behind the ear - lymph nodes). Lymph nodes are involved in the body's immune system, serving as sites where infections are trapped and fought off by the body's immune cells (white blood cells).

See a doctor who can help

Find a Internists near you

Each set of lymph nodes protects a particular region of the body. The postauricular nodes are mostly involved in protecting from infection of the scalp and ear, but may also be involved in infections of the throat. The most likely scenario is that you had an infection of one of these areas that led to swelling of the lymph node, the normal response, which caused you to notice the node. Nodes can stay swollen for some time after the infection goes away. Occasionally, a swollen lymph node can be a sign of a serious medical problem, such as a blood cancer. However, these lymph nodes are usually quite a bit larger than 'lentil-sized.' Therefore, I think the chances of this are very low. However, I do agree with your decision to have the spot checked out by your primary care doctor who will be able to tell you if further workup is needed.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.