Should Your Child See a Doctor?
Ear - Injury
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.
- 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 Now or Go to ER
- 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
- Severe pain and not improved 2 hours after taking pain medicine
- Age under 1 year old
- You think your child has a serious injury
- You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent
Call Doctor Within 24 Hours
- 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
- You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent
Call Doctor During Office Hours
- Dirty cut and no tetanus shot in over 5 years
- Clean cut and no tetanus shot in over 10 years
- You have other questions or concerns
Self Care at Home
Estimated Urgent Care Wait Times
These are estimated wait times for each Urgent Care clinic. Wait times are typically longest during the first hour we are open and may not be reflected immediately in the online wait time. Traffic and wait times may be affected by local events or bridge closures. Please check current traffic conditions and advisory alerts on the Seattle Department of Transportation website.
Wait times may also vary depending on the severity of the illnesses we are treating. If your child’s illness or injury is life-threating, call 911.
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.
- 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 information is not intended to 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.
Last Reviewed: 09/01/2012
Last Revised: 09/01/2012
Copyright 1994-2015 Barton D. Schmitt, MD. All rights reserved.