Ear discharge

  • Definition

    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