Here’s Why Some People Have an Extra Hole in Their Ear

close-up of a preauricular sinus

Have you ever been standing really close to someone and noticed a teeny, tiny hole just adjacent to the top cartilage of their ear? Or maybe you may even have one yourself, and have always wondered about that extra little crater? If you were born with one, don’t fret, you didn’t get an oddly-placed piercing that you forgot about; it’s actually called a preauricular sinus.

According to Rare Diseases – don’t let the name of the source freak you out too much! – this condition is “a common birth defect” and “affected people usually do not have any additional symptoms unless it becomes infected.” In rare instances, people may experience “swelling, redness, fluid drainage, or pain,” but it’s nothing that common antibiotics can’t take care of.

So, in other words, these cute little holes are pretty much just another thing that makes each individual person unique, kind of like dimples or double-jointedness. Also, interestingly enough, some people may end up with a preauricular sinus on both ears, while others end up with only one.

As you probably already suspected, these little divots occur in all types of people, for all different sorts of reasons. For instance, if you have one or two of these, it means that you were most definitely born that way.

These itsy bitsy nodules only start forming in the mother’s womb, when the fetus is developing—not any time later. If you notice one of these guys pop up on your ear out of nowhere, then you might want to get that checked out!

If you happen to be one of those who is equipped with this unique feature, go ahead and take a gander at your mom or pop’s ears—chances are, you may see these extra ear holes on them, as well. That’s because this condition is inherited in an “autosomnal dominant manner,” meaning that just a single copy of the mutation in the chromosome can cause this unique look.

And, we’re just going to back up for a quick second here and address the “elephant in the room.” Yes, preauricular sinuses are technically known as mutations, but if you have one, it certainly doesn’t make you a sideshow freak, or even part of the X-Men for that matter. There are plenty of mutations out there that are much more common than you may think.

In addition, depending upon the part of the world that you live in, A LOT of people seem to have this. For instance, about 1 in 100 Brits are diagnosed with this special condition, but there are parts of the world—like South Korea, for instance—where the percentage is much higher, about every 1 in 20. Pretty interesting stuff, huh?

So, next time you’re sitting next to a stranger on a crowded subway car or airplane, take a quick look at their ear—you’ll be surprised at how often you’ll notice this cool mutation!

Do you have a preauricular sinus? If so, does anyone else in your family have one? Tell us all about your stories in the comments section below!