Most people with preauricular sinuses are asymptomatic. Only one third of persons are aware of their malformations. In one study of 31 patients, once the lesions became apparent, about 9.2 years (on average) passed before they sought medical care.
Some patients with preauricular sinuses present with chronic intermittent drainage of purulent material from the opening. Draining sinuses are prone to infection. Once infected, these sinuses rarely remain asymptomatic, often developing recurrent acute exacerbations.
Patients with preauricular sinuses may present with facial cellulitis or ulcerations located anterior to the ear. These ulcerations are often treated without recognition of the primary source, and the preauricular sinus remains unnoticed.
Subsequent to infection, a patient with preauricular sinuses may develop scarring and disfigurement.