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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Preauricular sinus


* Not a rare disease

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Your Question

My 4 month old son has bilateral preauricular sinus tracts. Are there associated diseases that we should be mindful of and watch for particular symptoms? Are there any particular things we should do to help prevent infection?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

Are there any conditions associated with preauricular sinus?

Preauricular sinus usually occurs sporadically as an isolated (not associated with other abnormalities) birth defect. However, studies show that it is a feature of another condition or syndrome in about 3 to 10% of cases, mostly in association with deafness and branchio-oto-renal (BOR) syndrome.[1]

Other syndromes that have been associated with a preauricular sinus include:[2][3]
However, most of these associations have been reported in only a few cases (and sometimes within a single family).
Last updated: 6/11/2015

How might a preauricular sinus be treated?

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.[3][1]

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. [3][1]
Last updated: 6/11/2015

Is it possible to prevent infection of a preauricular sinus?

We are unaware of non-surgical management recommendations to prevent infection of preauricular sinuses. There is disagreement in the medical literature about whether affected, asymptomatic people should have surgery to remove the sinus(es) to prevent potential complications, or if they should only have surgery once complications arise.
Last updated: 6/11/2015

  • Scheinfeld NS, Silverberg NB, Weinberg JM, Nozad V. The preauricular sinus: a review of its clinical presentation, treatment, and associations. Pediatr Dermatol. May-June, 2004; 21(3):191-196. Accessed 5/21/2014.
  • T. Tan, H. Constantinides, T.E. Mitchell. The preauricular sinus: A review of its aetiology, clinical presentation and management. International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology. November, 2005; 69(11):1469–1474. Accessed 5/21/2014.
  • Noah S Scheinfeld. Preauricular sinuses. Medscape Reference. January 2015;
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.