Skin Tags on the Ear at Birth: What Every Parent Needs To Know
Dr. Angel Rivera
If you look at any medical fact sheet, it’s clear that skin tags in adults are not harmful. In fact, they’re not considered to be a health issue. That’s why having them removed by a doctor isn’t covered by insurance. But, things can be different when they appear on babies. This is especially true when a newborn has skin tags on the ear.
Unfortunately, because skin tags are supposed to be harmless, we draw erroneous assumptions. If our baby has one, or a few, they’ll be safe as well, and can just be removed. But, that may not always be the case when there’s a skin tag on the ear of a baby.
So, what’s the difference between an ear tag and a skin tag elsewhere on the body? When a baby is born with a skin tag, it could be an indication of a more serious health concern. So, let’s take a closer look at some must-know information.
Are Skin Tags on Newborn Babies Ears a Problem?
Most of the time, the skin tags are entirely benign. In these cases, a doctor can typically remove them surgically.
However, there are some cases in which these ear skin tags can cause issues. They form along with the rest of the baby’s body. The external part of the ear is one of the first areas that develop inside a pregnant mother.
As the tissues begin to form the shape and use of the ear itself, skin tags can form with them. There are typically two ways skin tags on the ear can form. An excess of skin, fat, or cartilage on the ear, or because of a genetic issue. If ear tags form because of genetic conditions, they can sometimes become problematic.
Possible Health Issues & Illnesses That Can Occur with Ear Skin Tags at Birth
Ear skin tags at birth will typically need to be tested. First and foremost, it’s likely your doctor will want to check your baby’s hearing. They have been associated with the loss of hearing in babies on whatever side they show up on. This is typically a sign that the ear didn’t form correctly on the inside, and a reflection of that is shown on the outside. Getting their hearing screened is imperative.
Your doctor will want to check other parts of your newborn. This includes their kidneys, jaws, and mouth. Because all of these areas are formed in the mother’s body around the same time as the ears, your doctor will want to make sure they are fully developed without any abnormalities.
If your child’s hearing is normal, and it appears that other areas of the body have no side effects, that doesn’t mean your baby is ‘out of the woods’ just yet. If the issue is not a formative one, it could be a genetic problem.
It can also cause problems with the eyes and even spinal development. But ear tags are usually the first indication of this type of issue. Goldenhar Syndrome occurs when a baby’s facial features and bone structure don’t develop within the mother’s body as they are supposed to. Often, this only occurs on one side of the face.
Even though it is considered to be a genetic disorder, it’s rare that it is passed on from parent to child. It is more likely that there was some abnormality with a chromosome during the baby’s development that caused the syndrome.
Other noticeable signs vary significantly in severity. They include everything from a cleft palate to missing eyes. After your doctor runs hearing and vision tests, they will also likely perform X-Rays and diagnostic tests.
It affects one in every 4,000 births. It usually occurs on one side of the face, due to underdevelopment, or even nerve damage.
Unlike Goldenhar Syndrome, Hemifacial Microsomia is typically caused in the first trimester, when an issue of blood flow to the face affects development. It’s a non-progressive condition. It will not get any worse after the child is born, and they continue to grow and develop.
This can make it easier to treat through things like respiratory support, facial reconstruction, surgery, etc. Without the right kind of help at birth, a child can experience breathing problems and trouble eating.
Doctors will wait to do any surgery until the child is at least six. This is so they can reconstruct the ear and make it appear more normal. If the ear is severely deformed, some doctors may recommend a prosthetic ear as a replacement.
Keeping an Eye on a Baby Born with Skin Tags
Things like organ development and obvious other signs of facial structuring issues will be diagnosed right away. Once your doctor determines nothing else is wrong, for the most part, that can be a conclusive diagnosis for the rest of that baby’s life.
Doctors will want to run periodic tests to make sure the baby’s hearing is progressing normally. This is usually every six months. X-rays of the body may also be done to ensure everything is continuing to grow correctly.
Typically, these tests and diagnoses will fade off over time as your child gets older, and no problems have come up consistently. In most cases, babies can grow up perfectly healthy.
Cosmetic Issues & Ear Skin Tags on Babies
As a parent, you can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing it’s not a sign of a more serious medical problem. They are not harmful in any way and won’t cause problems in the future. In most cases, a child who has an ear skin tag at birth will have it sixteen years later.
Many parents leave that decision up to their child to make if they ever want to get it removed. The relief in knowing it is nothing more than a cosmetic issue at that point may be reward enough. Something as simple as a cosmetic issue doesn’t seem like such a big deal.
Ear Skin Tag Removal & Treatment Methods
Treatment is relatively similar to the treatment of a skin tag anywhere else. If you decide that your baby is to have the ear tag removed, there are options to consider. You will likely be guided by the baby’s doctor to choose the best treatment.
Tie Off Skin Tags with String
Some doctors will use the old remedy of tying off the skin tag. This will cut off circulation and blood flow, causing it to fall off. This isn’t a painful procedure and is probably the most non-invasive option.
Surgical Removal at an Outpatient Facility
The most common treatment option is a minor surgical excision. Nowadays, this type of ‘surgery’ can typically be performed in an outpatient facility, requiring no anesthesia for your baby. The doctor will numb the area, make a small incision, and remove the skin tag from the stalk. The entire procedure takes just minutes, and your baby won’t feel a thing due to the numbing agent. There is no further treatment required, and it won’t grow back on its own.
A bit more invasive, but sometimes necessary approach, is to use anesthesia. This is typically only the case if your child has multiple tags, or if they are clustered in one area. In this case, your baby would be put under an anesthetic while the doctor used the same cutting procedure. Again, there is no regrowth once the tags have been removed.
Other At-Home Treatment Options
If you know that the skin tag on your child’s ear at birth is harmless, you might be tempted to try some of the ‘home remedies.’ While most of them are completely harmless, it’s always a good idea to consult a doctor before trying anything on your own, primarily because of the location of the tag(s).
The ear can be a sensitive area, especially for newborns. Using some substance or procedure on a newborn when you’re not sure how their body will react is always a risk. So, sticking with medical advice in this instance is the best way to go.
Delaying Treatment Until They’re Older
On the other hand, if you choose to let your child make the decision later on in life when it comes to keeping or removing a skin tag, it may not hurt to try some of those home options, especially if your child is a teenager or older. At that point, it’s safe to consider the ear tag to be nothing more than another skin tag.
Remember that skin tags and ear tags will not fall off on their own. You cannot grow out of a skin tag, and you can’t just lose it as you age. The bottom line is, it must be either removed surgically or fall off somehow, which requires some treatment. As a purely cosmetic issue, it’s up to you whether or not you want your baby to go through that treatment immediately, or later on in life.
Advice About Skin Tags on the Ear at Birth
We’ve covered quite a bit here about skin tags on newborns, and none of it is meant to be used as a ‘scare tactic.’ If you were to ask your doctor, look on a message board, or even do some statistical research, you would discover that ear tags are relatively common in newborns, as purely a cosmetic issue. What happens following removal isn’t well-documented. The relief comes from knowing that your child isn’t at risk.
Not Necessarily a Major Medical Concern
A baby born with a skin tag on the ear doesn’t always have a medical issue. There’s no reason to panic if your child is born with one (or even several, for that matter). Yes, you will notice the difference in the way it looks, and it will likely even look as though it’s a part of the ear that may not have formed properly. Chances are, that’s not the case, but even if it is, there are treatment options to consider.
If your baby is born with an ear tag, the other ideas to keep in mind aren’t likely the things you want to think about or dwell on. Being as prepared as possible is extremely important, and they should not be ignored. If your child does have some genetic predisposition or experienced some damage to a chromosome in the womb, there will likely be other symptoms and signs. Ear tags can be a sign of a greater condition, but other facial deformities are likely.
Get His or Her Hearing Screened
The biggest concern is likely to be hearing loss, as it’s something that is unable to be seen. Hearing screenings can be done right away on newborns. Even if everything comes back normal, there’s a good chance you could be taking your child for regular hearing tests more often than you’d like to, just to make sure things are working properly.
Proper development of all parts of the body is obviously the key to a strong and healthy newborn. That doesn’t mean there is necessarily something to worry about if a part of your child didn’t form ideally. They can still have a completely normal and happy life.
Don’t Just Rely on Online Research
It’s always a good idea to stay informed about the possibilities of what a lagging growth could do to your child. While it’s easy to get caught up in the ‘what ifs’ in pregnancy, there is a difference between worrying about what might happen and being prepared for it. If your newborn baby experiences a skin tag on the ear, the best thing you can do is stay calm. Offer them the treatment option that best fits their individual need. This could be a simple surgical removal or some other type of treatment to help a stronger, more serious condition.
Everyone ought to know what skin tags on the ear of a newborn should mean, what can be done about it. This obviously depends on what it actually is, and how the treatment works – whether it’s cosmetic, or medical.