Occasionally, a patient might be told that they have a cyst in their ear. This is a term that is very general and somewhat vague in terms of diseases of the ear.
We're all familiar with little cysts that we get on our skin and certainly you can get a cyst like that anywhere on your earlobe, or even in your outer ear canal.
You must remember that the skin of your outer ear canal is exactly the same skin that lines the surface of your face. It just runs down your ear canal.
Any type of eczema for example that you can get on your skin, you can get in your ear canal. Any type of little cyst, or pimple that you can get on your skin, you can get in your ear canal.
When we speak about ear cysts however, in general we are talking about a cyst in the middle ear and that is called a cholesteatoma. It is a skin line cyst. What happens inside the cyst, is dead skin is accumulating. And that dead skin builds up and the cyst gets larger and larger. Eventually, it can rupture through the eardrum and cause infections or hearing loss.
Those cysts represent a surgical problem. They cannot be treated medically. They must be removed.
Oftentimes, these cholesteatomas will become infected. They will be treated with antibiotics, either by mouth or as drops, to remove the infection. However, if the cyst is not surgically removed, the infection will recur.
So ultimately, cholesteatoma is a surgical problem. It must be taken care of surgically.