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Red and hot (burning) ears: Causes and treatment

Last update on Apr, 10, 2023

Should I worry about getting hot and red ears?

There's nothing worrying about the body trying to regulate its own temperature; quite the opposite! Many people believe that ear redness is a symptom of migraines or illnesses. When the body reaches the optimal temperature, ear redness disappears.

There is no need to worry if your ears are very red, the redness will fade. If redness persists for a long period of time, it means your body temperature is too high. To get your body temperature down, try using some of the methods listed below.

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Causes of red and hot ears

Red, hot, swollen and painful-to-the-touch ears can happen to anyone. Red and hot ears can be caused by a sudden increase in blood flow caused by abrupt transitions from a hot to a cold environment, consumption of alcohol or spicy foods, hormonal changes and even some medications. Let's review some of the main causes of red and hot ears:

Sunburn: Ears that are hot and red due to the heat usually quickly turn pink again, but it is possible for the sun to cause real burns to the ears. This mostly happens in the summer, but it can happen at any time of the year. The consequence of a sunburn is not only redness, but in some cases severe burning.

Heat and temperature alterations: Strong sensations of heat lead our blood vessels to dilate, allowing the heat to disperse and the consequent regulation of body temperature. Due to this, blood vessels rise to the surface, which causes the typical red color on the ear or other body parts.

Seborrheic dermatitis: Seborrheic eczema, or dermatitis, is a condition that causes red, scaly patches on the scalp. However, it can spread to other parts of the body, such as the face, upper back, and even the ears. If you have seborrheic eczema, you may notice white pins on your ear as well as redness and itching.

Emotions: The ears also turn red when we get emotional: anger, happiness and embarrassment are all sensations that cause our body to provoke this particular emotional response, which fortunately passes within a few minutes.

Hormonal problems: Since hormones regulate all processes in the body, it goes without saying that in the event of a hormonal imbalance, the ears can also become red and hot. This can occur more often in adolescence and during menopause.

Ear infections like otitis media: The ear is prone to infections due to germs and bacteria that can enter the body through cuts or directly into the auditory system. If you are experiencing an ear infection, ear redness may often also be accompanied by swelling and pain.

Ear traumas or injuries: In the event of an injury or trauma to the auricular area, it is normal for the ear to be red and hot. Piercings, scratches and insect bites are just some of the traumas an ear can endure, and in this case, the best solution is to take pain-relievers until the symptoms disappear.

Less common causes of red and hot ears

  • Trigeminal neuralgia: This disorder is caused by the trigeminal nerve compressing affecting the ears, neck, lower face and jaw.
  • Perichondritis: More rarely, hot and red ears can be caused by pathologies such as perichondritis of the ear, an inflammation not always of an infectious nature, which occurs on the auricle, following trauma (even a piercing), insect bites or related to other systemic diseases.
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Are your ears red and hot?

One of the best ways to care for your ears and prevent hearing loss is to get them properly examined by a hearing professional. Find your nearest Miracle-Ear store to get started on your journey to better hearing.

Red ear syndrome

Red ear syndrome has symptoms that also affect your hearing system. It can affect one or both ears (but usually affects only one ear) and manifests itself with redness and heat in the affected area, but also with hyperacusis, tinnitus and hearing loss

The causes of this syndrome are still unknown, but it is believed that it may be associated with particular forms of migraine, by the way it is still not clear if the headache is the cause or effect of the redness of the ears. When the redness is associated with fever and severe pain, it is advisable to consult a doctor to diagnose the presence of the syndrome and identify the appropriate treatment.

Many causes above can occur in only your right or left ear, such as a sunburn or injury. Red ear syndrome often only impacts one ear. For others, the redness and heat occur in both ears, as in the case of temperature alteration or seborrheic dermatitis.

High blood pressure can primarily cause redness and flushing of the face and ears but usually does not cause these body parts to turn hot.

One of the most common symptoms of skin allergies is itching, which can also occur in the ears. It is not uncommon that itchy ears come with redness of the ear, but itchy ears rarely become hot. Seasonal allergies, such as common pollen allergies, can also cause itchy and red ears.

Red and hot ears treatment

As we've explored, hot and red ears are usually a symptom of increased blood flow related to an emotion, change in temperature or a hormonal change.

If any of the above is the cause for your red and hot ears, symptoms will disappear in a few minutes or hours, and no specific treatment is needed. If you are experiencing intense pain or heat and redness lasting longer than a few hours, you should visit a doctor. This can be a sign of an infection or inflammation requiring specific therapy or medication.

Red and hot ears with children

The causes of hot and red ears listed above can also be present in children, specifically emotional and temperature causes. Often children are more prone than adults to ear infections such as otitis media. Other potential causes include mumps and sixth disease.

If the baby or child is very young, it is critical to check if they are experiencing other signs of discomfort along with their hot red ears, such as crying. If children are crying or showing other signs of discomfort, contact your pediatrician to identify the root cause for appropriate treatment.

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