Cuts and Wounds of the Outer Ear
Children may get minor cuts, wounds,
and deep cuts (lacerations) to the outer part of the ear while playing, climbing,
sports. Most of these injuries can be handled at home with simple first aid treatment.
First aid for superficial cuts and
Stay calm. It's important for
you to stay in control. This will help you to make better decisions. And your
child will also be less likely to panic if you stay calm and reassuring.
Calm your child and let them
know you can help.
Apply pressure with a clean
cloth or bandage for several minutes to stop bleeding.
Wash your hands
Wash the cut area well with
soap and water. But don't scrub the wound. Remove any dirt particles from the area
and let the water from the faucet run over it for several minutes. A dirty cut or
scrape that isn't thoroughly cleaned can cause scarring and infection.
Apply an antiseptic lotion or
Cover the area with an
adhesive bandage or gauze pad. Change the dressing often.
Check the area each day and
keep it clean and dry.
Don't blow on the scrape
(abrasion). This can cause germs to grow.
Any wound to the ear
cartilage that is more than just a superficial cut or laceration should be checked
by a healthcare provider. The provider can decide if more treatment is needed.
Bruises, blisters, or swollen
areas caused by injury may be treated by placing an ice pack or cold pack on the
area every 1 to 2 hours for 10 to 15 minutes for the first 24 hours. To make an
ice pack, put ice cubes in a plastic bag that seals at the top. Wrap the bag in a
clean, thin cloth or towel. Don't put ice directly against the skin.
A direct blow to the ear that
causes a large bruise or collection of blood and fluid under the skin (hematoma)
should be checked by a healthcare provider. The provider can decide if more
treatment is needed. If there is a bruise (contusion) in the cartilage, a
condition called a perichondral hematoma can develop. If the hematoma isn't
treated with drainage, it can cause a cauliflower ear deformity.
Use a sunscreen on healed
cuts and wounds to help prevent scarring. Choose sunscreen with sun protection
factor (SPF) 15 or higher.
When should I call my child's healthcare
Specific treatment for cuts and
wounds of the ear that need more than minor treatment at home will be discussed by
child's healthcare provider. In general, call your child's provider for ear cuts and
Are bleeding heavily and
don't stop after 5 to 10 minutes of direct pressure. If the bleeding is gushing,
hold pressure for 5 to 10 minutes without stopping to look at the cut. If the
cloth becomes soaked with blood, put a new cloth on top of the old one. Don't lift
the original cloth.
Are deep or longer than 1/2
Occur with hearing loss
Are caused by a puncture
wound, or dirty or rusty object
Are embedded with debris,
such as dirt, stones, or gravel
Are ragged or have separated
Are caused by an animal or
Are very painful
May also involve a fracture,
or head or bone injury
Show signs of infection, such
as increased warmth, redness, swelling, bad odor, or drainage (even if the cut or
wound is small)
Also call your child's healthcare
Preventing ear injuries
Follow these guidelines to help
prevent ear injuries in children:
Teach your child not to poke
or place objects in the ear, such as cotton swabs or pencils.
Teach your child to wear
protective ear guards or helmets for sports activities that could cause
If your child is planning to
have their ears pierced, be sure it's done by a professional. Take care of your
child's ears afterward according to the instructions given.