This is Why Some People Have Those Little Holes Above Their Ears

You might have noticed that a few people have a barely noticeable hole where the top of their ear cartilage meets their face. Believe it or not, it’s probably not the remnants of an old piercing they had when they were 15.

Just 0.1 percent of the population have it in the US, 0.9 percent in the UK, and as many as 4 to 10 percent in Asia and parts of Africa, according to one study. In South Korea, that figure could be as high as 5 percent, and it’s most common in people of African or Asian descent.

 
It’s actually a congenital disorder called preauricular sinus.

Preauricular sinus

Preauricular sinus is a common birth defect that may be seen during a routine exam of a newborn. It generally appears as a tiny skin-lined hole or pit, often just in front of the upper ear where the cartilage of the ear rim meets the face. It may occur on one side (unilateral) or both sides (bilateral) of the ear. Affected people usually do not have any additional symptoms unless it becomes infected. Preauricular sinus may occur sporadically during the development of an embryo or it may be inherited in an autosomal dominantmanner with reduced penetrance. Less often, it occurs as a feature of another condition or syndrome. Treatment may include antibiotics for infection and/or surgery to remove the sinus.

Treatment

The majority of preauricular sinuses do not cause symptoms or problems unless they become infected. Common signs of infection include swelling, redness, fluid drainage, and pain. In these cases, treatment typically includes systemic antibiotics. If an abscess is present, it will likely need to be incised and drained.

There are differing opinions in the medical literature about the indications for surgical removal of preauricular sinuses. Some believe that even asymptomatic sinuses should be removed. Others believe that surgery is indicated if infection or other complications arise.