An ear tag is a small skin tag or pit in front of the outside part of the ear.
Skin tags and pits just in front of the opening of the ear are common in newborn infants.
In most cases, these are normal. However, they can be associated with other medical conditions. It is important to point out skin tags or pits to your child's health care provider during the routine well-child examination.
Some causes of an ear tag or pit are:
- An inherited tendency to have this facial feature
- A genetic syndrome that includes having these pits or tags
- A sinus tract problem (an abnormal connection between the skin and tissue underneath)
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Your provider will usually find the skin tag during your first well-baby examination. However, call your provider if your child has bleeding, swelling, or discharge at the site.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Your provider will get a medical history and will do a physical examination.
Medical history questions about this condition might include:
- What exactly is the problem (skin tag, pit, or other)?
- Are both ears affected or only one?
- What other symptoms are present?
- Does the child respond normally to sounds?
Your baby will be examined for other signs of disorders that are sometimes associated with ear tags or pits. A hearing test may be done if the child did not have the usual newborn screening test.
Preauricular tag; Preauricular pit
Demke JC, Tatum SA. Craniofacial surgery for congenital and acquired deformities. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund LJ, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2015:chap 186.
Patterson JW. Miscellaneous conditions. In: Patterson JW, ed. Weedon's Skin Pathology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2016:chap 19.
Update Date 4/21/2015
Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.