A woman holds her injured ear.

Originally written June 18, 2019

Bleeding is never pleasant, whether you nicked yourself while making dinner or involved in a serious accident. But, what does it mean if you’re bleeding from your ear?


  1. Causes for Ear Bleeding #1:Punctures
  2. Causes for Ear Bleeding #2:Infection and Growths
  3. Causes for Ear Bleeding #3:Changes in Altitude
  4. Causes for Ear Bleeding #4:Head Trauma
  5. Causes for Ear Bleeding #5: Cancer
  6. Should I see CEENTA for a bleeding ear?

Causes for Ear Bleeding #1: Puncture

The likeliest cause for a bleeding ear is trauma, usually self-inflicted. Despite the warning on the packaging, it is very common for people to place cotton-tip applicators, like Q-tips, deeply into the ear canal. The may cause mild abrasions of the tender ear canal skin or even lacerations cuts of the skin. These injuries will usually bleed. "If you are taking anticoagulants (blood thinners), the bleeding can be persistent," CEENTA ENT doctor Christopher Jones, MD, said.

In rare cases, the eardrum may even be perforated by placing foreign objects in the ear. Eardrum perforations may cause hearing loss and bloody or infected drainage from the ear. Traumatic tympanic membrane perforations usually heal on their own in about three months, but occasionally must be repaired surgically.

Causes for Ear Bleeding #2: Infection and Growths

Bleeding from the ear in children who have ear tubes is usually a sign of infection draining through the tubes and development of granulation tissue which is benign. The drainage will usually resolve with topical treatment with ear drops.

In adults who have had chronic ear disease, bleeding may be a sign of cholesteatoma, Dr. Jones said. This is a benign skin growth behind the eardrum that can grow and lead to significant complications. Cholesteatoma usually must be removed surgically.

Causes for Ear Bleeding #3: Changes in Altitude

Barotrauma is damage to the body due to sudden changes in pressure, usually with the air or water. The ears are susceptible to this during flying or deep water submersion, and a result you may find that your ears are bleeding even without doing anything apparent. Other symptoms related to this may include hearing loss and dizziness. 

Causes for Ear Bleeding #4: Head Trauma

Trauma to the ear, such as in contact sports and combat sports, can cause damage to the middle ear and the exterior of the ear. However, traumatic brain injuries from significant events such as a car crash may come with ear bleeding in addition to vertigo and a concussion.

Causes for Ear Bleeding #5: Cancer

Cancer in the ear canal or middle ear is rare but could present with bleeding from the ear. These cancers may include:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Melanoma

Should I see CEENTA for a bleeding ear?

Bloody drainage from the ear should always be evaluated by a physician. CEENTA's team of ear, nose, and throat specialists can examine your ear to see the extent of your damage and provide treatment options to remedy your ear bleeding. To schedule with a CEENTA ENT physician, you may use our online scheduling platform or myCEENTAchart.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor.To make an appointment with any of CEENTA’s ENT doctors, you may schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.


You may also be interested in

A man covers his eyes so we don't see his tears of blood
​Tears of blood: what is haemolacria?

Are bloody tears safe?

Read More
Dr. Silver on Charlotte Today
Dr. Bobby Silver on WCNC's Charlotte Today

Talking ear tubes.

Read More
Richard Felkner, MD
The history of CEENTA: listening to an ENT doctor

When a field of medicine goes through a period of incredible growth and development, it can inspire a doctor to dedicate his career to it. That’s what happened with Richard Felkner, MD, who was so inspired by the renaissance in ENT care in the 1960s that he became a specialist and spent decades caring for patients at CEENTA.

Read More

Leave a Comment



Back to News
This website is optimized for more recent web browsers. Please consider these upgrade options: IE10+(IE10+, Chrome Chrome, Firefox Firefox.
 Schedule An Appointment