Hot Ears? What Causes Them

Getting a hot ear can be more than just superstition, it could be associated to your health and well being. Having a hot ear can be uncomfortable, irritating and can provent you from your normal daily activities such as using your mobile phone, listening to music or wearing a hat. Hot ears can come with other symptoms such as redness, pain, hearing loss or itchiness. It is helpful to learn why your ear may be feeling this way.

Your outer ear is made up of cartilage, not bone and connected to the rest of your head  by ligaments, muscles and skin. The ear lobe itself is the only part of the outer ear not made from cartilage, instead a tough connective tissue that connects to the side of your face. The blood supply to your outer ear is supplied by your external carotid artery. Your outer ears are a robust functional part of your body but they are sensitive to particular elements.

Extended Phone  or Headphone Use

Your ears effectively need to "breathe", if boxed in for extended periods your ears will inevitabilty become hot and sweaty. Your hypothamalus in your brain works with your skin, sweat glands and blood vessels to regulate your body's tempreture. Pressing anything against your skin for prolonged periods is especially irritating and anything that gets hot such as your phone can make the skin of your ear itchy, red and hot. Take breaks if you are required to wear headphones or make constant calls throughouth the day. If possible put your phone on speaker phone, loud speaker to give your ear a rest. 

Red ear syndrome

Red ear sydrome is the name given to an unexplained redness encountered by one or both ears that is also accompanied with a burning sensation too. You are more likely to expereience pain around the ear lobe which can resonate in the jaw line. Research has shown links between red ear syndrome and cluster headaches and migraines. Symptoms can be brought on by different climate, touch or stress issues.

Ear Infection

A hot ear can be an indication of an infection in your outer or middle ear. If it is an infection it is unlikely to come as a hot ear alone. You are more likely to experience it alongside pain whether dull or throbbing and the pain will feel as though it is coming from inside your ear than your ear lobe. Your ear may feel blocked and also temporarily affect your hearing. Speak to your doctor if you are concerned about an ear infection.


Too much sun exposure can leave your ears feeling a little red raw. Simular to sun burn on other parts of your body, it can feel sore, tender and look quite red. It is often a forgotten part when applying suncream, along with your hands and feet. Look to keeping your ears cool when out in the sun.  Applying suncream especially to the tops of your ears and wearing a sun hat.

Embarassment Can Cause Hot Ears

Ear blushing occurs due a sudden increase in blood flow to the ear causing a hot red ear which will last only a short time. It is common after an intense emotional reaction to a situation, getting upset or being embarresed. It is caused by your sympathetic nervous system that is responsible for involuntary physical changes to your body. Your sympathetic nervous system is also responisble for your flight or flight response.

Skin Infection

A skin infection can also cause your ears to become red and hot. Celullitis is a bacterial infection of the tissue just below the skins surface. This can occur after bacteria invade broken and damaged skin and tissue under the outer ears skin that comes about from ear piercings and foreign objects in the ear prior to them being fully healed. Other ways that can break the skin of the ear are insect bites or damage via sports such as rugby or boxing. Another bacterial infection known as Erysipeias affects the upper layer of the skin. To avoid such infections to care and to clean any damaged area or broken skin of your ears and make sure your earings are clean before use.

Relapsing Polychondritis

Polychondritis affects your body's cartilage and as your outer ear is made of caterilage it can be common to affect this area. However the occurance of relapsing polychondritis is relatively uncommon. It causes reoccurring episodes of inflammation and redness  (sometimes noticed with the red ear syndrome mentioned above). Pain and redness tends to not affect the lobe of the ear due to its lack of catilage.


Quick Tips

On average it takes ten years for people to address their hearing loss