What Are the Causes of Red Ears?

Written by jayde m. nichols
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What Are the Causes of Red Ears?
Ear redness may be caused by a number of conditions, such as ear infections and skin disorders. (ear image by Connfetti from Fotolia.com)

Redness of the ears occurs in many people, and can be caused by a number of conditions, such as ear infections, temperature changes, eczema and psoriasis. The cause of ear redness can be determined by confirming symptoms, although in some situations a visit to the doctor may be required.

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Ear Infection

An ear infection is a common cause of ear redness, and the type of infection must be determined to decide on a treatment. Outer ear infections are common in individuals who swim often, earning this condition the nickname swimmer's ear. Signs of an outer ear infection include swelling and inflammation of the outer ear canal. This condition occurs in adults and children, and can be treated with antibiotics or steroids. Inner ear infections, or labyrinthitis, are an inflammation of the inner ear tubes. This condition may be caused by viral or bacterial infections. Symptoms of an inner ear infection include redness and ringing in the ears. If left untreated, this condition can lead to hearing loss. Viral labyrinthitis will clear up on its own with time, but bacterial labyrinthitis can be treated with antibiotics. A middle ear infection can also cause ear redness. This type of ear infection is most common in children and babies, and is caused by bacteria getting into the ears. Symptoms include ear pain and fever. The doctor may want to wait to see if the infection clears up, or may prescribe antibiotics if the infection is severe.

Skin Temperature

The temperature of the skin on the ears can cause ear redness. Warmth or burns can cause the ears to turn a red shade. Sunburn on the ears will cause warmth to the touch and redness. Cold weather conditions can lead to cooling of the ears, also resulting in ear redness.

Skin Conditions

Skin conditions, like eczema and psoriasis, may cause redness of the ears. Eczema is a chronic condition typically occurring in infancy and childhood and resolving by adulthood. This skin condition causes inflammation, swelling, redness and itching of the skin. Scratching the inflamed area can lead to worse swelling and redness. Psoriasis is a skin disorder that causes pink or red lesions of dry, scaly skin. The dry skin in the infected area can lead to itching, causing redness as a result. Psoriasis is uncommon on the ears, although it can occur. There is no cure for this disorder, but it can be managed with the help of a doctor.

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