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Things to know about hot ears

When the ear is red or feels burning

About possible causes of hot ears, the red ear syndrome & red ears in children

Learn more about what might cause redness in the ears, also known as hot ears, in both children and adults. If you have questions about your hearing health, feel free to visit a hearing care professional at Amplifon. If you suspect you are experiencing hearing loss, you can test your hearing ability in just 3 minutes with our online hearing test

What is the meaning of hot (burning) ears?

Hot, red and swollen ears can happen to anyone and it can brought on by several causes. Generally, it can be a result of a sudden increase in blood flow due to an abrupt change in temperature, excessive consumption of alcohol or spicy food, hormonal fluctuations (hot flushes during menopause, for example) or as a side effection to medication. 

Red ears can occur in both adults and children in various degrees of severity. One particular form of red ears is red ear syndrome, which you will learn more about below. 

Possible causes: Why your ears might be hot

In some cases, heat, cold, or rubbing the ear may bring on symptoms. In others, the redness and burning may occur spontaneously. There are several reasons one's ears may heat up or turn red, below we will look more closely at a few possible causes.


Bacterial infections on the skin can be a probably cause. Cracks and fissures, insect bites or cuts are often the gateway for microbes and bacteria which can trigger an inflammatory reaction. In this case, the person may also experience an earache as well as other systemic symptoms such as fever, chills, fatigue and swollen lymph nodes. 

Eczema and dermatitis

Certain eczemas and dermatitides can trigger skin inflammations. When experiencing sebhoritic dermatitis, the skin around the affected area can become red and itchy, and scales and small white patches that extend to the middle ear may also appear on the skin.

When suffering from this skin condition, the person may also experience similar symptoms on other areas of the skin: the scalp, groin, armpits and any area with a lot of sebaceous glands.

Emotional reasons

A person's ears can often get warm and turn red due to strong emotions, such as stress, anxiety, shyness and anger. These emotional responses can trigger vasodilation along with sudden, intense redness of the face, neck and ears that lasts for a few minutes. Another possible cause can be sunburn or excessive sun exposure of the affected area.

Rarer causes

Hot and red ears can also be also be associated with other systemic diseases. Although quite uncommon, this symptom can be a result of recurrent polychondritis, a rare rheumatic autoimmune disease that affects the cartilage of the ear, or perichondritis of the ear, an inflammation of the pinna of the ear due to blaunt trauma (including from a piercing) or insect bites.

Infection from earring or piercing

Although ear piercing is often performed in licensed centers that follow strict sanitary standards, infections can still occur. In such instances, it's important to take the appropriate steps to address the issue. Let's explore some of the best ways to treat an infected ear piercing.

Rare condition: The red ear syndrome

Red ear syndrome is a rather rare condition, also known as erythromelalgia of the ears. This condition is caused by rapid and intense dilatation of the small arteries of the ears. Symptoms include a severe burning of the ears and redness. This condition often manifest in one ear and last from a few minutes to several hours.


In some cases, these symptoms occur spontaneously and for no apparent reason. In other cases, however, the redness and burning seem to be triggered by rubbing the ear, by heat or by cold.

Possible causes

The root cause of this syndrome is not clear; it may be due to an idiopathic origin (i.e. an unknown cause) or it may manifest as a secondary symptom of other diseases, such as spinal cord disease, diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis or venous hypertension.

Things to know about red ears in children

Redness, hot ears and swelling can be a symptom of a handful diseases that can manifest in children. The combination of high fever and swollen ears can be a symptom of parotitis, or mumps, the sixth exanthematic disease or an acute external ear infection, to name a few.

Detect ear ache as soon as possible

As young children and newborns cannot verbally communicate their discomfort, it is important to observe their behaviour and gestures, as they may indicate the type and severity of pain they may be experiencing. Constant touching of the ears as well as irritability and inconsolable crying may be a indication that they are experiencing these symptoms.

When should you see a doctor?

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is best to consult a specialist as soon as possible so you can receive adequate treatment. If your disease has not been diagnosed by a doctor, it is best to avoid resorting to at-home remedies, such as cold or warm ear compresses, ear rinses or the topical ointments, as this may trigger further symptoms.

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