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Ear - Injury

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Does this describe your child's symptoms?


  • Injuries to the outer ear, ear canal or eardrum

Types of Ear Injuries

  • Bruises and scratches of outer ear

  • Blood clot 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 (caused by cotton swabs, pencils, sticks, straws, wires)


When to Call Your Doctor

call now

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

  • Outer upper ear is very swollen

  • Pointed object was inserted into the ear canal

  • Clear fluid is draining from the ear canal

  • Walking is unsteady

  • Severe pain

  • Age under 1 year old

  • You think your child needs to be seen urgently

call within 24 hours

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 from ear canal due to minor injury, cotton swab (Q-tip) or ear exam

  • Injury causes an earache or crying that persists

  • Hearing is decreased on injured side

call within 24 hours

Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If

  • No tetanus shot in over 5 years for DIRTY cuts (over 10 years for CLEAN cuts)

  • You have other questions or concerns

home care

Parent Care at Home If

  • Minor ear injury and you don't think your child needs to be seen



  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 such as Polysporin (no prescription needed) to any cuts or scrapes. Cover large scrapes with a Band-Aid. Change daily.

  4. Pain Medicine: Give acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) 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

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.

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