What Causes Bleeding From Your Ears and How to Treat It

Ear bleeding can happen because of an injury or as a symptom of another condition. When the ear bleeds, it is due to blood coming from the ear or inside of the ear. Some of the potential causes include trauma, a cut, an ear infection, an object inside of the eardrum, cancer, or the most common, a ruptured eardrum.

Learn more about the causes and treatment of blood in the ear.

Close-up of ear

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Ruptured or Perforated Eardrum

The eardrum is the membrane that separates the ear canal from the middle part of the ear. This is the area of the ear that gets the vibration from sound and enables hearing.

When a ruptured eardrum occurs, there is a tear—or perforation—in the membrane that separates the middle ear and ear canal. Typically, a middle ear infection can cause a ruptured eardrum. This happens because the fluid from the infection settles behind the eardrum and a pus-like liquid drains from the ear. Bleeding is also known to happen. As a result, temporary hearing loss may occur.

Symptoms of a ruptured or perforated eardrum include:

  • Earache or sudden relief of an earache
  • Hearing loss in the affected ear
  • Spinning sensation or dizziness
  • Bleeding or fluid discharge from the ear canal
  • Ringing noise in the ear

Causes

Some of the causes of a ruptured or perforated eardrum include:

  • Ear infection
  • Sudden changes in pressure (from flying on a plane or scuba diving)
  • Trauma from something stuck in the ear canal
  • Very loud noises

Other Causes of Blood in the Ear

There are other less likely causes of bleeding in the ear, including: 

  • Ear pimples
  • A blow to the head
  • Ear canal cancer, middle ear cancer, or skull base cancers
  • An object in the ear
  • Scratching scabs

Treatment

There are a few treatment options for a ruptured eardrum. If the rupture is small, it may heal on its own. If this is the case, the practitioner may prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection.

Some holes will have to be treated by an otolaryngologist, a healthcare provider trained in the medical and surgical care of ear, nose, and throat disorders. If the hole is small, they may place a patch and medication over the eardrum that will help it heal. If the rupture is not healed after two months, the healthcare provider will most likely suggest surgery in which tissue is used from another area to patch the eardrum.

It is important to speak with a practitioner regarding questions, concerns, and a treatment plan.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If you have bleeding in your ear, call your healthcare provider to set up an appointment so you will know the cause of the bleeding and your next steps. If you were hit in the head or bumped your head and your ear is bleeding, get medical attention immediately or go to the emergency room.

Don’t hesitate if you also have the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Hearing loss
  • Bleeding from the nose
  • Problems with vision
  • Confusion or loss of consciousness

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why is my ear bleeding?

    Ear bleeding can happen because of an injury or as a symptom of another condition. Some of the potential causes of a bleeding ear include trauma, a cut, an ear infection, an object inside of the eardrum, frostbite, burn, cancer, or the most common, a ruptured eardrum. If the blood inside the ear is not carefully cleaned out, it may become dried up.

  • How is a perforated eardrum treated?

    Surgery may be needed if a perforated eardrum takes longer than three weeks to heal on its own. In many cases, it will heal by itself. If you suspect that your eardrum is perforated or ruptured, you may want to visit a doctor so they can prescribe medicine to prevent infection. In the meantime, avoid getting water in the ear, and when blowing your nose, do so lightly to prevent further damage.

  • Why can I hear my blood pumping in my ear?

    You may be hearing blood pumping in the ear because of pulsatile tinnitus. This is when a person often hears a thumping sound in one or both ears. The rhythmic sound is due to a turbulent flow of blood vessels in the head or neck. It can be a result of high blood pressure, a blood vessel disorder, or conductive hearing loss. Vascular tumors, such as glomus tympanicum, as well as many other disorders may also be associated with pulsatile tinnitus.

  • How do you stop ear bleeding?

    To stop ear bleeding, you should first determine the source of the bleeding. If blood is leaking from inside of the ear due to a ruptured eardrum, gently apply clean cotton onto the outer ear canal so that blood does not seep out. If the blood is coming from the outer ear, you can carefully apply pressure to the injured area until it stops bleeding. Afterward, use a clean bandage to dress the wound and fit it to the ear's shape. Use tape to keep it in place, but not too tightly. Applying a covered cold pack or cold compress can reduce pain and swelling. It is always a good idea to contact medical help when ear bleeding occurs.

  • Why is my ear piercing bleeding?

    Ear piercings are known to cause light bleeding. If the bleeding continues, the ear could be infected. It may be wise to contact a healthcare provider for more information and treatment.

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7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Harvard Health. Perforated eardrum.

  3. Cleveland clinic. Ruptured eardrum (acutely perforated tympanic membrane).

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  5. National Health Service (NHS). Perforated Eardrum.

  6. Penn Medicine. Pulsatile tinnitus.

  7. MedlinePlus. Ear Emergencies.