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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.
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.
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.