Ear Trauma

Injury Definition
Injuries to the outer ear, ear canal or eardrum

Types of ear injuries include the following:

  • Bruises and scratches of outer ear
  • Blood clot (hematoma) of outer ear
  • Ear canal bleeding due to scratch of ear canal (caused by cotton swab, fingernail, or medical ear exam)
  • Punctured eardrum due to long-pointed objects (e.g. caused by cotton swabs, pencils, sticks, straws, wires)

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If

  • You think your child has a serious injury
  • Bleeding that won’t stop after 10 minutes of direct pressure
  • Skin is split open or gaping and may need stitches
  • Outer ear is very swollen
  • Pointed object was inserted into the ear canal (e.g. a pencil, stick, or wire)
  • Clear fluid is draining from the ear canal
  • Walking is unsteady
  • Severe pain
  • Age < 1 year old

Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 and 4) If

  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Injury caused an earache that persists
  • Hearing is decreased on injured side

Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If

  • You have other questions or concerns

Parent Care at Home If

  • Mild ear injury and you don’t think your child needs to be seen

Home Care Advice for Mild Cuts, Scrapes, or Swelling

  1. Bleeding: Apply direct pressure for 10 minutes with a sterile gauze to stop any bleeding.
  2. Cleansing: Wash the wound with soap and water for 5 minutes.
  3. Antibiotic Ointment: Apply an antibiotic ointment to any cuts or scrapes. Cover large scrapes with a Band-Aid. Change daily.
  4. Pain Medicine: Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen as necessary for pain relief.
  5. Expected Course: Minor ear injuries heal quickly, usually in 2 or 3 days.
  6. Call Your Doctor If
    • Pain becomes severe
    • Your child becomes worse or develops any of the “Call Your Doctor” symptoms