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
Seattle Children’s Urgent Care Locations
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.