Skin tags near the ear opening are common among newborns but are not something parents should worry about. These skin tags, or preauricular ear tags, are just benign growth of either the skin or cartilage. Often, it is an inherited or genetic feature unique to the family line. It can also affect both genders equally. Ear tags, in most cases, do not pose any threat or present anomalies in babies, only cosmetic problems. However, there are also rare cases where it may pose ear or hearing problems.
Tying a string around the ear tag of your newborn may cause it to shrink into just a bump. But if you wish, you can request your doctor to remove it through minor surgery.
What is a preauricular ear tag?
Ear tags are small lumps of tissues that can grow in front of the newborn’s ear. It can either be pure skin protrusion or a long tail of cartilage.
Sometimes, it grows on just one side, but others may grow on both sides of the ears. Skin tags may also appear on any part of the cheek.
The ear tag is formed when the six soft tissues or hillocks fuse while the fetus’s ear develops. The hillocks tissues are what make up the external part of the ear. These tissues often develop at around five weeks of the baby’s gestation.
When these soft tissues fuse incorrectly, it can result in additional protrusion that becomes the ear tag.
Causes of ear tags
In most cases, preauricular ear tags are normal, except that it is some sort of a superficial skin problem.
If left alone, it will also grow along with your baby as a unique and distinctive mark.
Some parents let their babies wear it with pride, especially to emphasize its genetic importance. But some parents may also solicit surgery to remove it earlier in the child’s life.
The most common causes of ear tags are:
- Incorrect fusion of hillock tissues
- Inherited tendency (hereditary)
- Genetic syndrome
Genetic syndromes associated with ear tags
Although they are harmless, there are instances when ear tags are also associated with other medical problems.
These conditions include Goldenhar syndrome or a congenital defect resulting from incomplete tissue development in one side of the body.
Hemifacial microsomia, another facial congenital deficiency characterized by an underdeveloped face, can also cause the appearance of preauricular ear tags.
Babies with first and second branchial arch syndrome or combined tissue deficiency will also likely exhibit the symptoms.
Treatment of ear tags
Ear tags will not fall off on their own but will only grow with the baby.
Your doctor can clip out an uncomplicated ear tag immediately after birth using a clip device – and without anesthesia. As mentioned, some doctors will tie a string around the lump in newborn babies to let it fall off.
Surgical clipping can also be done. It is, in fact, the best way to get rid of the ear tags. Your doctor will assess whether it can be removed in minor surgery or if it would require general anesthesia.
If anesthesia is required, you may need to wait until your baby is a little older for the procedure.
When can my doctor remove ear tags in newborns?
Doctors will assess whether the ear tag is safe for clipping without anesthesia. It is possible for ear tags with narrow stalks and relatively minor cartilage involved.
At what age can I have it removed if it requires general anesthesia?
If the ear tag involves substantial cartilage and requires general anesthesia, you can wait until your baby is at least 2 to 3 years old.
Will tying a string on ear tags work?
The science behind tying a string on the ear tag is to reduce the blood flow into it. It is also harmless for minor and uncomplicated skin tags. However, the procedure may still leave a small bump at the base of the stalk.
Preauricular ear tags are cosmetic birth defects that are mostly harmless in babies.
Some parents just let them grow as they are as their kids’ distinctive marks. But others may choose surgical removal to get rid of this small flaw for personal reasons.
How about you? Have you had any experience with ear skin tags that you may want to share with us? Comment down on the section below for your thoughts.