What Causes Red Ears?

Red ears are usually harmless, but they can also be a symptom of a health condition. Your other symptoms will help you determine what’s causing your ear redness and whether you need any treatment.



Sunburn is caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. This is an inflammatory reaction that damages the outer layer of the skin. Damage to skin cells causes the skin to become red and painful.

In some cases of sunburn, your skin may begin to peel to remove damaged skin cells from your body. In severe cases, blisters may appear on your skin.

Sunburn is so common that it is estimated that more than 30% of the population experience sunburn at least once a year, and 50% of young people get sunburn at least once a year.

Sunburn affects people in different ways, and those at highest risk include:

  • have sensitive skin
  • exercising outdoors more often
  • Apply little or no sunscreen
  • obesity
  • are you young

Sunburns can be dangerous, and studies have shown that frequent sunburns in childhood or adolescence can significantly increase the risk of skin cancer later in life.

Relieve sunburn with over-the-counter and home remedies


Flushing is a temporary physiological response that causes redness in the face, ears, and other parts of the body. Your skin turns red because blood flow to the area increases and the blood vessels under the skin dilate.

It usually happens due to embarrassment or anger, but it can also be caused by a medical condition, such as Cushing’s syndrome, where you have too much of the hormone cortisol in your body.

Other causes of flushing may include:

  • Alcohol
  • Spicy food
  • fever
  • mental disorders, such as anxiety
  • Neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease
  • hormonal imbalances, such as menopause
  • carcinoid syndrome, a disorder that occurs when carcinoid tumors (slow-growing tumors that spread throughout the body) release chemicals into the bloodstream
  • mastocytosis, a rare skin disorder caused by too many immune cells called mast cells
  • Anaphylaxis, which refers to a severe allergic reaction
  • Thyroid cancer
  • pancreatic tumor
  • some medications, such as opioids, NSAIDs, or anticancer drugs
  • Skin diseases such as rosacea

Because flushing is both harmless and serious, it is important to work with your doctor if flushing occurs frequently, does not go away, or is associated with other symptoms.

When should I worry about red ears?

If your ear redness is accompanied by pain, burning, or other uncomfortable sensations, you should see your doctor.

Seborrheic eczema

Seborrheic eczema is a skin condition that causes red ears, scaly skin, and dandruff. It usually affects the scalp, but can also occur on other parts of the body, such as the face, ears, chest, and upper back.

This condition usually occurs during the first three months of a baby’s life, adolescence, and adulthood between the ages of 40 and 60. It is estimated that about 1% to 3% of people have seborrheic eczema.

The exact cause of this condition is unknown, but research suggests that overproduction of skin oils and abnormal growth of fungi on the skin may contribute to its development.

Research has also found it to be associated with:

  • weakened immune system
  • lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • traumatic brain injury
  • epilepsy
  • Spinal cord injury
  • frustrated
  • Alcoholic pancreatitis
  • Hepatitis C
  • facial nerve palsy

It is usually a harmless condition that can be managed with over-the-counter or prescription drugs.

relapsing polychondritis

Relapsing polychondritis is a rare disease that affects only three to four people per million. It causes the cartilage and other tissues in the body to swell and become inflamed.

The main symptoms of the disease include swelling and inflammation of the ear, nose and joint cartilage. It can also affect the airways, ribs, and eyes. In rare cases, it can cause problems with the heart, veins, skin, kidneys, and nervous system. Symptoms may include:

  • ear pain and swelling
  • outer ear injury
  • swelling of the inner ear
  • hearing loss
  • nausea
  • Dizziness
  • joint pain
  • swollen voice box
  • narrowed or blocked airway
  • cough or wheeze
  • hoarse
  • swollen eyes
  • Inflammation and damage to nasal cartilage

The cause of relapsing polychondritis is unknown, but experts believe it is an autoimmune disorder that may be inherited. It has also been linked to conditions such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Crohn’s disease and type 1 diabetes.

erythematous extremity pain

Erythromelalgia is a rare disorder that affects approximately 1.3 people per 100,000 people each year. Symptoms include severe burning pain in the hands and feet, accompanied by severe skin redness and elevated skin temperature.

The condition can spread to other parts of the body, including the face and ears. It can cause a flare-up and possibly other symptoms, such as tingling.

The cause of the disease is thought to be genetic, especially because of mutations in the SCN9A gene. It can also be passed on from generation to generation.

Are red ears hereditary?

Some conditions associated with red ear may have a genetic component, such as flushing and erythematous extremity pain.


Red ears can also be caused by an infection, usually a skin infection such as cellulitis or erysipelas. However, red ears can also be a symptom of an outer ear infection, such as a swimmer’s ear:

  • In cellulitis, the main symptoms are redness and swelling of the painful skin area. The parts of the body that are often affected by cellulitis are the feet and legs, but it can develop anywhere on the body. It can be caused by several different types of bacteria, but one of the most common is group A strep. The infection is not contagious and usually enters the body through an open wound.
  • Erysipelas, also known as St. Anthony’s fire, affects only the upper layers of the skin. It is also caused by bacteria, mainly group A streptococci. It also enters the body through an open incision or pain. Erysipelas affects the face, legs, arms, and trunk, and is common in infants and the elderly.
  • Swimmer’s ear is caused by water getting trapped in the canal, which allows bacteria to thrive. It can also be caused by a lack of ear wax, ear injuries, or skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis. The main symptom of swimmer’s ear is usually ear pain, but people with this infection may also have red ears.
  • Perichonditis can also cause red ears. It affects the skin and tissue around the cartilage of the outer ear and is caused by bacteria, mainly, Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Infection-causing bacteria usually cause an infection after an ear injury.

The main symptoms of perichonditis are pain and redness of the ear, but in some cases, fever and fluid discharge from the affected area can also be present.

How to Prevent Ear Infections and Fluid in the Ear

red ear syndrome

Red ear syndrome is an extremely rare disorder. It causes burning and redness in the ears that can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours. For people with this disorder, flare-ups can occur several times a day to several times a year.

Although the cause of the disease is unknown, it is thought that it may be caused by functional problems with the cervical nerves, temporomandibular joints, or circuits within the brainstem. This condition is also associated with migraines.

The main symptoms associated with red ear syndrome are ear pain and burning. While having red ear syndrome can be uncomfortable, the condition itself is not serious.


Treatment for red ear depends on its cause.


Once you realize you have a sunburn, you should start treating your sunburn. While sunburns will heal on their own, there are steps you can take to ease the pain, such as:

  • take a cool bath or shower
  • Use Aloe Vera or Soy Moisturizers
  • Use hydrocortisone cream in severe cases
  • taking over-the-counter medicines for pain and swelling, such as ibuprofen
  • Avoid exposure to the sun and wear tightly woven clothing

Relieve sunburn with over-the-counter and home remedies


If there are certain triggers, such as spicy foods or anxiety-provoking situations, avoiding the triggers can help. If the cause is a medical condition, your doctor will treat it, which will eventually treat the flushing.

Seborrheic eczema

Mild cases of seborrheic eczema are often treated with over-the-counter and prescription medications, such as anti-dandruff shampoos containing selenium, zinc pyrithione, or coal tar. Your doctor may also prescribe an antifungal shampoo that contains ciclopirox.

For more severe cases, shampoos containing betamethasone valerate, clobetasol, or fluocinolone may be prescribed. To help relieve facial symptoms, including in the ears, topical antifungals, corticosteroids, and calcineurin inhibitors will be used.

The 8 Best Shampoos for Seborrheic Dermatitis in 2022

relapsing polychondritis

Standard treatment for relapsing polychondritis includes corticosteroids, such as prednisone, aspirin, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as dapsone or colchicine. Immunosuppressants may also be used in more severe cases. In the most extreme cases, a heart valve may need to be replaced or a breathing tube surgically implanted.

erythematous extremity pain

There is no single treatment for erythromelalgia because not all types of therapies work for everyone with this condition. It may go away on its own, but doctors usually advise people to avoid triggers that can cause an attack.

Treatments that may be effective include:

  • topical cream
  • Oral drugs
  • Anesthetic
  • cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Epidural anesthesia
  • nerve block
  • Surgery


Antibiotics are often required for bacterial infections such as cellulitis, St. Anthony’s fire, perichonditis, and swimmer’s ear. If the infection is caused by a fungal overgrowth, antifungal medication can be used. Since there are no drugs specifically designed to fight the virus, people with the virus recover with rest and plenty of fluids.

red ear syndrome

Pain-relieving medications are often used to treat red ear syndrome. Other types of medicines that can be used include:

  • tricyclic antidepressants
  • beta blockers
  • calcium blockers
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Serotonergic agonists and antagonists (drugs designed to activate or deactivate serotonin receptors)
  • topical steroids or lidocaine
  • Nerve blocker

Home remedies for red ear will only work if you target the cause. Before trying any home remedies, consult your doctor for a proper diagnosis.

when to see a doctor

If your red ears are not caused by flushing or sunburn, and you have other symptoms, call your doctor. They can help determine the cause and treatment.


Red ears are common and usually nothing to worry about, as you may get them if you’re embarrassed or sunburned. However, if you have red ears and other related symptoms, talk to your doctor and find out what’s causing the red ears.

VigorTip words

Red ears can be caused by many different triggers, as well as by certain health conditions, such as infections. If you’re not sure what’s causing your red ears or are concerned that they may be a symptom of another disorder, call your doctor about any questions or concerns you may have.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What can cause red and hot ears?

    The most common and harmless cause of red hot ears is flushing. When flushing occurs, it causes the blood vessels in the ears to dilate, making them red and causing them to feel hot to the touch. Emotional responses usually drive it.

  • How to treat red ear?

    Treatment for red ear depends on the cause. For example, if red ears are caused by flushing, no treatment is required. If it is caused by red ear syndrome, different medicines may be needed to cure red ear syndrome.

  • What can cause ear redness and pain?

    Red and swollen ears are often caused by a condition called relapsing polychondritis. However, they can also be caused by ear infections such as cellulitis or perichonditis.

  • What can cause red and itchy ears?

    The most common cause of red and itchy ears is seborrheic eczema. This condition is characterized by scaly patches and redness on the skin. In babies, it is called a cradle cap.