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What Is Cryptotia?

Cryptotia is when the top part of the ear is underneath the skin. Usually the skin is over normal ear cartilage. But sometimes the cartilage doesn’t form normally.

Children with cryptotia (krip-TOE-shuh) are born with the condition, which doesn’t affect hearing. If needed, treatments can reshape the ear.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Cryptotia?

Cryptotia can affect one ear or both. The top of the ear is flatter and is under the skin, which is why it’s sometimes called hidden ear or buried ear. Because this part of the ear is under the skin, it’s hard for kids to wear glasses because the frames can’t hook onto the ears in the usual way. Kids with cryptotia are usually otherwise healthy.

What Causes Cryptotia?

Doctors don’t know the exact cause of cryptotia. It may be caused by gene changes (mutations)

How Is Cryptotia Diagnosed?

If a baby has cryptotia, the doctor will see it during the newborn exam.

How Is Cryptotia Treated?

Sometimes cryptotia is not very noticeable and won't need any treatment. If only a small part of the upper ear is under the skin and if the cartilage of the ear is normal, wearing a silicone mold can reshape the ear by stretching the skin. If a larger part of the upper ear is under the skin, or if the cartilage needs to be reshaped, surgery can help.

What Else Should I Know?

If your child has cryptotia, treatments can help. Talk to the doctor about what’s best for your child.

Reviewed by: Amy W. Anzilotti, MD
Date Reviewed: Jan 1, 2023

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