Ear tags or preauricular tags are one of many usually small congenital defects that might be seen on an infant or slightly older child. The tag is usually a small flap made primarily of skin that is slightly in front of the ear. Some babies have only one and this finding is not significant of anything necessarily. Other infants may have several ear tags and these could be associated with certain defects of which skin tags are a symptom or with conditions that cause unusual development of skin tags.
Many times an ear tag is singular and will signify very little in an infant or child’s life. However, due to the potential that the tag might mean something else, including possible risk to hearing, the presence of one should be brought to the attention of a child’s doctor. Since the ear tags are skin colored they may not always be noticed at first.
Children may also have small pits in front of the ears, and these too may be light colored. Changes in appearance of a pit where it looks red, or suddenly turns from a pit into a bump that may be filled with pus, suggest getting immediate medical attention in order to treat for what could be infection. Typically appearance of ear tags doesn’t change, though they may grow a little with time. Fast growth tends to be an unusual occurrence and should be mentioned to a doctor.
In many cases when ear tags are benign, parents still opt to have them removed for cosmetic reasons. Since these can grow over time, it may significantly promote a child’s self-esteem or comfort level. Of course if the child is still in infancy, he or she is unlikely to note presence of an ear tag.
Usually removal is a procedure that may be done while an infant is awake with some local anesthesia. A more complicate surgery might be required if the tag contains cartilage from the ear or if there are several ear tags that need to be excised. In most cases the surgery is fairly simple: tag is cut off and the skin is sewn back together. Anesthesia of a local or general type may be up to the surgeon’s discretion depending on the degree to which it might be necessary to stabilize a patient or the degree to which a surgery could create trauma for the infant or young child. Parents can certainly weigh in on this decision too.
With surgery, most times this signifies the end of an infant getting new ear tags. However, some people seem genetically prone to develop these and could develop more in the future. This isn’t always predictable but careful watching of a child to look for pits, tags, cysts or other growths is warranted.