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What Causes The Ears To Become Red And Hot?

Have you wondered what makes ears turn red and hot? Well, this could be a result of flushing or blushing.1 The other common causes of red-hot ears are exposure to rapid temperature changes and in a few cases hormonal changes. The red and hot ear is also frequently seen in individuals after drinking alcohol. The red and hot ear is also caused by diseases of the skin and subcutaneous tissue. Frequent occurrences of red and hot ears associated with mild to severe pain should be seen by a primary care physician for proper evaluation and treatment.

The neurological diseases of the C2 and C3 nerve results in sensory nerve impairment and in a few cases causes red and hot ear as well as pain.2 The symptoms of red and hot ear associated with pain are also known as red ear syndrome. Unilateral red ear syndrome with headache is often observed in young women.3

The skin vasodilatation associated with pain and increased temperature is also known as Erythermalgia. Erythermalgia over the ear, face, and neck in a few cases observed with red ear syndrome.4 Long-lasting painful red hot ears when associated with flushing of the ear occasionally result in emotional disturbances, such as anxiety,and depression in adults and children.5 The case report suggests Red and hot ear is seen in children suffering from neuropsychiatric systemic lupus erythematosus.6

Causes of red and hot ear

Causes of Red and Hot Ears

  1. Frequent anxiety attack
  2. Exposure to extreme temperature changes7
  3. Exposure to chemicals and irritants7
  4. Frequent rubbing of the ear
  5. Hormonal changes
  6. Medication
  7. Migraine
  8. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction
  9. Cervical spine disorder
  10. Food allergy

Episodes can occur spontaneously or be triggered, most frequently by rubbing or touching the ear, heat or cold, chewing, brushing of the hair, neck movements, or exertion.

The individual feels a hot ear when the ear turns red or flushes. The following causes are frequently observed in the red ear or flushing ear.

Reaction to Emotions Can Cause The Ears To Turn Red and Hot

Sudden vasodilatation and increased blood flow to the skin and subcutaneous tissue result in flushing. The flushing of the face and ear is known as blushing when it occurs after embarrassment or a romantic engagement. Similarly, isolated red ear or bilateral ear flushing is observed during a panic attack, anger, stress, and anxiety. The ear becomes red following increased blood flow to the ears secondary to vasodilatation.2 It is more noticeable in people with fair skin.

The following emotional reaction causes red ear

  • Fear,
  • Stress,
  • Passion,
  • Embarrassment,
  • Anxiety and
  • Romantic situation

Ears Turning Red and Hot Caused Due to Exposure to Environment7

Ears are naturally exposed to the atmosphere and any changes in weather or temperature can easily affect the skin around the ears. Being exposed to the sun for long, during summer or peak hours of heat, can cause reddening of ears, with hot flushing. Similarly, ear exposure to extreme cold or snow also causes red ears.

Ears Turning Red and Hot Caused Due to Exposure to Chemicals and Irritants

Ears can become red and hot when exposed to chemicals or skin irritating substances. Sometimes, chemicals and skin irritants cause mild to moderate ear pain as well as itching and peeling of the skin. In extreme cases, painful blisters may develop that often become non-healing ulcers. The skin over the ear shows signs of itching, peeling, and blisters. Such a condition may need immediate medical attention and treatment. The red and hot ear is observed when an individual reacts to soap or skin lotion when rub over the ear.

Ears Turning Red and Hot Caused Due to Reaction to Hormones

Certain conditions or phases in life may result in hormonal changes. Some hormonal changes lead to the dilatation of the blood vessels of the skin. The vasodilatation of the blood vessels of the ear causes red ears and the face causes blushing. The red ear is thus caused by vasodilatation of blood vessels in the skin and subcutaneous tissue. Hormonal changes are common during menopause. The fluctuation of estrogen and progesterone during menopause causes red ears and facial blushing.3 Hyperthyroidism causes increased secretion of thyroid hormone. Individuals suffering from hyperthyroidism also frequently suffer from red ears.

Red and Hot Ears Caused Due to Medication and Treatment

Flushing and red ears may also result from hypersensitive reactions to medicines. Medications prescribed for the treatment of high blood pressure, diabetes, angina, and cancer occasionally show a red ear that may or may not be painful. The cause of the red ear is possible vasodilatation. Most individuals feel hot ears and particularly more when alcohol is consumed while taking medications.

Red Ear Syndrome

It is a rare condition, in which there are episodes of redness of the ears, with a burning sensation and sometimes pain. This may be present in one or both ears and may last for a few seconds or longer. The episodes can vary in frequency and may appear several times in a day or maybe noted only a few times in a year.

These symptoms may be spontaneous or brought on by certain triggers like the movements of the head or neck, chewing food, coughing, sneezing, drinking, tooth grinding, or other movements of the head, face, and jaw region. Sometimes, the episodes may be noted after getting exposed to heat or cold, gentle rubbing of ears, showering, or hair brushing. Unlike the normal blushing or emotional response, the redness of ears in the red ear syndrome does not subside after the emotion fades,

Some conditions that can contribute to red ear syndrome include:

  • Migraine
  • Temporomandibular dysfunction
  • Cervical spine disorder

Red and Hot Ears Associated with Migraine

Red ears may also be noted in case of migraine sufferers, especially during the episode of migraine and headache.4 There is redness of the ears, with a hot sensation and a feeling of pressure around the ears and head may be present.

Red and Hot Ears Associated with Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD) –

Persons with disorders of the temporomandibular joint or jaw joint may sometimes, feel ears to be hot, red, and painful.5 Most of the triggers of jaw joint pain, may even stimulate the red ear reaction. Jaw joints may be affected due to injuries, arthritis, or similar joint-related conditions and need thorough investigation and treatment

Red and Hot Ears Associated with Cervical Spine Disorders –

Disorders of the neck or cervical spine can irritate the nerves and blood vessels in the surrounding area and result in red and hot ears.6

Red and Hot Ears Caused Due To Food Allergy-

Occasionally a person may feel a sensation of a hot ear after eating hot food that contains chilies and hot paper. Orange juice is also known to trigger hot ears by increasing vasodilatation.7

How to Manage Red and Hot Ears?


Prevention- It is important to identify the cause of red and hot ears and their triggers. Avoid and eliminate the use of soap, lotion, or food that triggers red ear syndrome.

Treat Primary Cause- Red and hot ears caused due to TMD and cervical spine disorders need to be evaluated and treated appropriately.

Menopausal Syndrome- Treat menopausal symptoms with appropriate hormonal therapy in order to get rid of the problem of red and hot ears. You must consult a gynecologist or endocrinologist.

Treat Migraine- Migraine sufferers may need preventive treatment and lifestyle changes.

Treat Emotional Fluctuation- People with high emotional responses associated with red ear may need psychotherapy. Individuals must consult psychiatrists for medical management and psychotherapy.

Diet Changes- Consume some diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids like fatty fish, olive oil, almonds and walnuts, whole grains like brown rice, fruits and vegetables. Drink plenty of water and remain active with some form of regular exercise or walks.

When To See The Physician for Red and Hot Ear?

  • Repeated episode of the red ear that is not responding to conservative treatment
  • The red ear persists for more than 72 hours.
  • You must consult primary care physician if you see frequent daily attacks for a week or weekly attacks for over a period of in one month.


  1. The red ear syndrome, J Headache Pain. 2013; 14(1): 83. Published online 2013 Oct 4, 10.1186/1129-2377-14-83, Giorgio Lambru,1 Sarah Miller,1 and Manjit S Matharu 1

  2. Lance JW. The mystery of one red ear. Clin Exp Neurol. 1994;14:13–18. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
  3. Red ear syndrome: A review of all published cases (1996–2010), S. Ryan, B. WakerleyP. Davies, Medicine, Psychology Cephalalgia : an international journal of headache, 2013
  4. Auricular erythermalgia showing excellent response to itraconazole: a case report, Yan-Ting Ye 1Jing-Fa Lu 2Hui-Hui Wu 3Juan-Hua Liu 3Yu-Kun Zhao 4Di-Qing Luo 4
  5. A Case of Pediatric Auricular Erythromelalgia Monitoring Editor: Alexander Muacevic and John R Adler
    Alyssa Reese, 1 Lauren DiNardo,1 Kristina Powers,1 and Michele M Carr1 Published online 2022 Jan 10. doi: 10.7759/cureus.21088
  6. Lee HS, Bae SC, Uhm WS, Jun JB, Lee IH, Kim SY. Red ear(s) syndrome associated with child neuropsychiatric systemic lupus erythematosus. Lupus. 2000;14(4):301–303. doi:10.1191/096120300680198908.
  7. Culp WJ, Ochoa J, Cline M, Dotson R. Heat and mechanical hyperalgesia induced by capsaicin. Cross modality threshold modulation in human C nociceptors. Brain. 1989;14(Pt 5):1317–1331. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 14, 2023

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