Ear - Injury  

This Care Guide Covers:

  • Injuries to the outer ear, ear canal or eardrum

When to Call Your Doctor

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
  • You think your child has a serious injury
  • Bleeding won't stop after 10 minutes of direct pressure
  • Skin is split open or gaping and may need stitches
  • Upper part of the ear is very swollen
  • Pointed object was put into the ear canal
  • Clear fluid is draining from the ear canal
  • Walking is not steady
  • Pain is SEVERE and not improved 2 hours after taking pain medicine
  • Age under 1 year old
  • You think your child needs to be seen urgently
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently
  • Few drops of blood in the ear canal. Caused by a minor injury, cotton swab (Q-tip) or ear exam.
  • Injury causes an earache or crying lasts more than 30 minutes
  • Hearing is less on injured side
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If
  • No tetanus shot in over 5 years for DIRTY cuts
  • No tetanus shot in over 10 years for CLEAN cuts
  • You have other questions or concerns
Parent Care at Home If
  • Minor ear injury
Causes & Health Information

Types of Ear Injuries

  • Bruises and scratches of outer ear
  • Blood clot of outer ear
  • Ear canal bleeding due to scratch of ear canal. This can be caused by cotton swab, fingernail, or ear exam.
  • Punctured eardrum due to long-pointed objects. Examples are cotton swabs, pencils, sticks, straws, or wires.
CARE ADVICE FOR MINOR EAR INJURIES

  1. Bleeding:
    • 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.
  2. Cleansing:
    • Wash the wound with soap and water for 5 minutes.
  3. 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 Band-Aid. Change daily.
  4. Pain Medicine:
    • To help with the pain, give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen. Use as needed. See Dose Table.
  5. What to Expect:
    • Minor ear wounds heal quickly.
    • Most often, cuts and scrapes heal in 2 or 3 days.
  6. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Pain gets severe
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
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Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

Last Reviewed: 9/1/2012

Last Revised: 1/14/2013

Content Set: Child Symptom Checker

Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.