Problems of the Ear Rim (Helix)
A bump on the helical rim (the rim or helix of the ear) is a common finding on one or both ears, often referred to as a Darwin’s tubercle. This swelling lies at the point at which hillocks 3 and 4 (mounds of cells which develop in the embryo to grow into an ear) normally join.
The lumps can be small and like nodules, or large and fleshy, but they do not signify any illness or disease process. They can often give the ear an odd, sometimes pointed or stick-out shape. It is possible to remove a Darwin's tubercle under local anaesthetic as an out-patient procedure.
For a single tubercle, prices start from around £1790 including surgical and anaesthetic fees, including local anaesthesia, hospital fees and one follow-up appointment for suture removal.
Chondrodermatitis nodularis helicis
Bumps and nodules on the helical rim can sometimes be caused by a localised inflammation of the cartilage called Chondrodermatitis nodularis helicis. The nodules are often painful, particularly when the affected ear is slept upon. Treatment is by surgical removal of the nodules, but they are known to recur quite frequently.
The rim of the ear is a common site for ear cancer, especially in men, possibly because the ear rim is more exposed to the sun in men compared to women, who tend to have longer hair. Pressure from spectacles and hearing aids can also encourage the growth of cancers.