A woman holds her injured ear.

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

Why is my ear bleeding?

CT Jones, MD

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.

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.

Is a bleeding ear a sign of something more serious?

Cancer in the ear canal or middle ear is rare but could present with bleeding from the ear.

Should I go to a doctor?

Yes. Bloody drainage from the ear should always be evaluated by a physician. If your ear is bleeding, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with CEENTA.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. Dr. Jones practices in our Fort Mill, Lancaster, and Rock Hill offices. To make an appointment with any of CEENTA’s ENT doctors, call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.


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