We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are the Common Causes of Ear Swelling?

Alex Tree
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
TheHealthBoard is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At TheHealthBoard, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Ear swelling, both temporary and permanent, can be caused by allergies, injuries, or something as common as water. Direct injury, for example, can lead to permanent swelling of the ear due to damage to the cartilage. Contact dermatitis, a type of allergy, is a particularly common cause of swollen ears, especially in women and men who get an ear pierced and insert a type of metal to which they are allergic. Swimming in polluted water or getting shower water trapped in the ear canal can cause swimmer’s ear, which typically causes pain and swollen ears. In most cases of swollen ears, the swelling goes away once the cause is treated, but this is not always the case.

One common cause of ear swelling is blunt trauma, which may be administered to the ear by a physical assault, a fall, or during the course of a sporting exercise. In addition to swelling, such an injury is often accompanied by broken bones and other visible damage, such as abrasions and bruises. A common injury leading from blunt trauma to an ear is cauliflower ear, where the outer ear cartilage is damaged so much that it cannot receive proper nourishment and blood flow. This condition, which often presents in sports players who regularly engage in physical activities that impact their ears, can cause permanent ear swelling and general ear misshaping.

Another common cause of swelling in the ear are allergies that often result in contact dermatitis. Sometimes the metals in an earring will bother the skin, resulting in the affected skin becoming irritated and possibly swollen. A couple of metals that can cause contact dermatitis in some people are nickel and chromium. Another common type of irritant that can cause ear swelling is an insect bite or sting, often inflicted by a bee, wasp, or ant. Different people are allergic to different substances, so the reactions resulting from these kinds of irritants may vary significantly from person to person.

A condition called swimmer’s ear typically presents with swelling and pain or tenderness in and around the ear. This condition gets its name because it usually develops due to exposure to pathogens in water. When these pathogens get into the ear canal, they can infect the ear and result in this condition. Common tactics to avoid this condition include not swimming in polluted water, drying the ears out manually to prevent the pathogens from festering, and utilizing properly fitted earplugs.

TheHealthBoard is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Alex Tree
By Alex Tree
Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and TheHealthBoard contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.

Discussion Comments

By anon942824 — On Mar 29, 2014

My 2-year-old brother's right ear started to swell up and I don't really know why. It's really red and really swollen on the top half of his ear. It became really thick and hard and warm, and almost doubled in size compared to his left one. I'm really worried and was hoping that you could tell me what's wrong.

By anon340996 — On Jul 07, 2013

My ear is swollen and purple on the outside but the inside is fine, and it hurts to the touch. I haven't had a bite or trauma. What is it?

By Mor — On Aug 13, 2011

@Iluviaporos - It might be nickel that's causing your mother's ears to swell. Did she try using earrings that were certified 100% gold?

Of course there are plenty of alternatives for her. She could even use plastic earrings if metal is just generally too rough on her ears.

I tend to forget to put earrings in at all, and then have to reopen my ears when I remember. That often makes my ears a bit swollen for a few days, but generally it's not too bad.

By bythewell — On Aug 13, 2011

For a while I would clean out my ears by letting hot water run into them when I was in the shower.

My sister is an audiologist (which is kind of like an optometrist, but for ears) and she scolded me when she heard that I did that.

Apparently it's really easy to give yourself swimmer's ear this way. I've never actually done that myself, but judging from the description in the article, I really don't want to.

My sister also gets annoyed when people do things like candling, which is basically dripping hot wax in your ear to clear it.

So, I guess the moral of the story is don't stick anything in your ears! Unless you are an audiologist and know how to do it for a living.

By lluviaporos — On Aug 12, 2011

My mother is convinced that she is allergic to gold earrings, because she has found they tend to make her ears swell up.

But, I'm pretty sure gold is generally considered to be completely hypoallergenic, so it makes me think she has probably had a reaction to something else, like nickel or chromium, that was mixed with the gold.

Pure gold hardly ever gets used, after all, because it's just too soft.

At any rate, the ear swelling really hurts, so she won't even try gold earrings now, which is a shame because I think they would suit her coloring much better than silver ones.

Alex Tree

Alex Tree

Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and TheHealthBoard contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.
TheHealthBoard, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

TheHealthBoard, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.