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Latin lobulus auriculae (singular), lobuli auricularum (plural)
System Auditory system
Gray's p.1084
TA A15.3.01.003
FMA 60984
Anatomical terminology

The human earlobe is composed of tough areolar and adipose connective tissues, lacking the firmness and elasticity of the rest of the auricle (the external structure of the ear). In some cases the lower lobe is connected to the side of the face. Since the earlobe does not contain cartilage it has a large blood supply and may help to warm the ears and maintain balance. The zoologist Desmond Morris in his book The Naked Ape (1967) conjectured that the lobes developed as an additional erogenous zone to facilitate the extended sexuality necessary in the evolution of human monogamous pair bonding.[1] However, earlobes are not generally considered to have any major biological function.[2] The earlobe contains many nerve endings, and for some people is an erogenous zone.

A free earlobe
An attached earlobe, with piercing.



Earlobes average about 2 centimeters long, and elongate slightly with age.[3] Although the "free" vs. "attached" appearance of earlobes is often presented as an example of a simple "one gene - two alleles" Mendelian trait in humans, earlobes do not all fall neatly into either category; there is a continuous range from one extreme to the other, suggesting the influence of several genes.[4][5][6]

Clinical significance[edit]

Earlobes are normally smooth, but occasionally exhibit creases. Creased earlobes are sometimes associated with genetic disorders in children, including Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome.[7] In some early studies, earlobe creases were thought to be associated with an increased risk of heart attack and coronary heart disease; however, more recent studies have concluded that since earlobes become more creased with age, and older people are more likely to experience heart disease than younger people, age may account for the findings linking heart attack to earlobe creases.[7] The earlobe crease is also called Frank's Sign.

Society and culture[edit]

Stretched earlobe piercing, Ethiopia

Earlobe piercing[edit]

"Around the world and throughout human history, earlobes are the most common locations for body piercings and it is not uncommon to tear an earlobe by a traumatic pull or the weight of a heavy earring." [8] Some cultures practice earlobe stretching, using piercing ornaments to stretch and enlarge the earlobes to accommodate plugs.

Negative effects of wearing earrings in light of researches.

The most frequent complications connected with wearing earrings are:[9]

There was noticed relation between piercing of young girls' earlobes and following development of allergy.[10][11][12]

In Professor Ewa Czarnobilska's view (the manager of research team) the main reason of allergy (listed by allergists) is presence of nickel as a component of alloys being used to production of earrings – however the ingredients declared by producer is not significant, because nickel is a standard component of jewellery.[11][12]

Symptoms of allergy are visible as eczema. This symptom is often justified to be food allergy (e.g. to milk), meanwhile the reason is contact the earring (precisely Ni ions) with Lymphatic system.[11][12]

It's interesting that ceasing of wearing earrings by children doesn't result in vanishing allergy symptoms. The Immune system remembers the presence of Ni ions that existed in someone's blood and lymph. Even though the children ceased wearing earrings, it can appear allergic reaction to:[11][12]

  • metal parts of wardrobe
  • Dental braces
  • Dental prosthesis
  • Orthotics
  • meals cooked in pots with addition of nickel
  • margarine (nickel is a catalyst in hydrogenation of unsaturated fats)
  • coins
  • chocolate
  • nuts
  • leguminous vegetables
  • vine
  • beer.

In light of allergist researches in a sample of 428 pupils of ages 7-8 and 16–17 years old there was noticed that:[11][12]

  • in 30% of the population there occurred allergy to nickel
  • the allergy occurred throughout girls who had started wearing earrings in early childhood.

Other symptoms of allergy to nickel are:[11][12]


  1. ^ Desmond Morris The Naked Ape: A Zoologist's Study of the Human Animal (Hardback: ISBN 0-07-043174-4; Reprint: ISBN 0-385-33430-3) Jonathan Cape, 1967 . Chapter 2, page 59 of Corgi paperback ed
  2. ^ Popelka (31 August 1999). "Re:Why do we have earlobes, what are they for, since when?". MadSci Network. Retrieved 16 July 2015. 
  3. ^ Azaria R, Adler N, Silfen R, Regev D, Hauben DJ (June 2003). "Morphometry of the adult human earlobe: a study of 547 subjects and clinical application". Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 111 (7): 2398–402; discussion 2403–4. doi:10.1097/01.PRS.0000060995.99380.DE. PMID 12794488. 
  4. ^ Boaz N. T. (1999): Essentials of biological anthropology. Prentice Hall, New Jersey,ISBN 0-13-080793-1.
  5. ^ Mader S. S. (2000): Human Biology. McGraw–Hill, New York, ISBN 0-07-290584-0.
  6. ^ Dutta P., Ganguly P. (1965): Further observations on ear lobe attachment. Acta Genet. Statist. Med. 15: 77-86, 1965. [PubMed: 14277139, related citations]
  7. ^ a b "http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003045.htm". Retrieved 17 March 2012.  Medline Plus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health: "Some studies have found that people with earlobe creases have a greater risk for heart attack than others. More recent research suggests that earlobe creases are more common in older people, and that age, not the presence of creases, accounts for the increased heart attack risk."
  8. ^ HELGAADMIN (15 December 2014). "Are your Earlobes Attached?". Quantum Healing Institute Blog. 
  9. ^ Watson D. (Feb 2012). "TORN EARLOBE REPAIR". Liver International (University of California San Diego School of Medicine) 35 (1): 187. 
  10. ^ Harmful earrings (pl. Szkodliwe kolczyki) Fizjointormator. Retrieved 2015-04-01
  11. ^ a b c d e f Polish Scientists wearn: earrings harm children (pl. Polscy naukowcy ostrzegają: kolczyki szkodzą dzieciom) Tvn24 Retrieved 2015-04-01
  12. ^ a b c d e f Czarnobilska E., Oblutowicz K., Dyga W., Wsołek-Wnek K., Śpiewak R. (May 2009). "Contact hypersensitivity and allergic contact dermatitis among school children and teenagers with eczema.". Contact Dermatitis (John Wiley & Sons A/S) 60 (5): 264–269.