Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ear discharges or bleeding

Table of Contents


Ear discharge is drainage of blood, ear wax, pus, or fluid from the ear.

Alternative Names

Drainage from the ear; Otorrhea; Ear bleeding; Bleeding from ear


Most of the time, any fluid leaking out of an ear is ear wax.

However, discharge may also be caused by a minor irritation or infection. A ruptured eardrum can cause a white, slightly bloody, or yellow discharge from the ear. Dry crusted material on a child's pillow is often a sign of a ruptured eardrum.

Bleeding from the ear may also be due to:

  • Trauma to the ear canal
  • Foreign object in the ear canal
  • Injury
  • Cancer

Common Causes
  • Eczema and other skin irritations in the ear canal
  • Inflammation or infection:
    • Otitis externa
    • Otitis externa - chronic
    • Otitis externa - malignant
    • Otitis media
    • Otitis media - chronic
    • Mastoiditis
  • Injury from a blow to the head, foreign object, very loud noises, or sudden pressure changes (such as in airplanes), resulting in a ruptured or perforated eardrum
  • Swimmer's ear -- usually accompanied by itching, scaling, a red or moist ear canal and pain that increases when you move the earlobe

Review Date: 08/03/2010
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Seth Schwartz, MD, MPH, Otolaryngologist, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (