Is this your child's symptom?
- Injuries to the outer ear, ear canal or eardrum
Types of Ear Injuries
- Cut or Scratch. Most cuts of the outer ear do not need sutures.
- Bruise. Most bruises of the outer ear just leave a purple mark. They heal on their own.
- Blood Clot (Serious). Most of the outer ear is made of cartilage. A large blood clot (hematoma) can cut off the blood supply to the cartilage. It needs to be drained. If not, the ear may become deformed (boxer's ear).
- Ear Canal Bleeding. Most are due to a scratch of ear canal. This can be caused by cotton swab, fingernail, or ear exam. Most stop bleeding on their own. Persistent bleeding needs to be seen.
- Cotton Swab Injuries: Cotton swabs cause more than 10,000 ear injuries each year in the US. More than 2,000 are punctured eardrums. Never let young children put cotton swabs in their ears.
- Punctured Eardrum. Most are due to long-pointed objects put in the ear canal. Examples are cotton swabs, pencils, sticks, straws, or wires.
- Loss of Hearing (Serious). Caused by blunt trauma, such as a slap to the ear. Also, caused by explosions.
When to Call for Ear Injury
Call Doctor or Seek Care Now
Contact Doctor Within 24 Hours
Contact Doctor During Office Hours
Self Care at Home
Care Advice for Minor Ear Injuries
- Bleeding - How to Stop:
- For any bleeding, put direct pressure on the wound.
- Use a gauze pad or clean cloth.
- Press for 10 minutes or until the bleeding has stopped.
- Clean the Wound:
- Wash the wound with soap and water for 5 minutes.
- Antibiotic Ointment:
- For cuts and scrapes, use an antibiotic ointment (such as Polysporin). No prescription is needed.
- Put it on the cut 3 times a day.
- Do this for 3 days.
- Cover large scrapes with a bandage (such as Band-Aid). Change daily.
- Pain Medicine:
- To help with the pain, give an acetaminophen product (such as Tylenol).
- Another choice is an ibuprofen product (such as Advil).
- Use as needed.
- What to Expect:
- Minor ear wounds heal quickly.
- Most often, cuts and scrapes heal in 2 or 3 days.
- Preventing Ear Injuries:
- Careful adult supervision of young children.
- Never let young children put cotton swabs in their ears.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Pain gets severe
- You think your child needs to be seen
- Your child becomes worse
And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.
Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
Copyright 2000-2020 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC.