Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Have you wondered what makes ears turn red and hot? Well, this could be a result of flushing or simply said, body's response to a particular stimuli. While there are many common reasons for the ears to become red and hot, there are some medical conditions that could also lead to flushing.

Red hot ears is usually considered harmless, however, if red and hot ears are associated with pain, skin problems and other changes, it should be properly evaluated. Also, long term problem of flushing of ears occurring due to medical conditions, emotional, behavioral or other external factors, may need proper treatment.

Causes of red and hot ear

Causes of Red and Hot Ears

Some factors that may lead to flushing of ears, turning them red and hot include:

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

Ears can turn red and hot as a result of body's reaction to an internal or external action. During the times of nervous or panic attacks or episodes of stress, the body reacts to it. There is sudden release of chemicals in the body, which results in certain changes in the body.

Normally, in situations of embarrassment, acute fear, anxiety and stress there is release of adrenaline and noradrenaline. This causes a sudden wave like feeling in the body and results in vasodilation. It raises the heart beats, causes rapid pulse and increases the blood supply. This can result in flushing of the parts and is particularly noted on the face. The ears may appear red due to blushing and may feel hot to touch. It is more noticeable in people with a fair skin.

Ears Turning Red and Hot Caused Due to Exposure to Environment

Ears are naturally exposed to the surroundings 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, exposure to extreme cold or snow, when ears are not covered, can affect the skin and cause red ears.

Ears can become red and hot, due to exposure to heat, cold, certain chemicals or other substances. Sometime, it may be painful, skin may have itching, peeling, blisters or signs of irritation. This may need immediate medical attention and treatment.

Ears Turning Red and Hot Caused Due to Reaction to Hormones

Certain conditions or phases in life may result in hormonal changes, resulting in flushing and redness of ears. Those suffering from thyroid problems, may have some changes in the thyroid gland and their hormone levels, which can lead to red, hot and sometimes, itchy ears. During menopause, many women experience hot flushes in the body and red, hot ears may also be noted.

Red and Hot Ears Caused Due to Medication and Treatment

Flushing and red ears may also result from intake of certain type of medicines and treatment modalities like those used for treating high blood pressure, diabetes, angina and cancer, particularly more, when alcohol is consumed along with it.

Red Ear Syndrome

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

Some conditions that can contribute to the red ear syndrome include,

  • Migraine - Red ears may also be noted in case of migraine sufferers, especially during the episode of migraine and headache. There is redness of ears, with a hot sensation and a feeling of pressure around the ears and head may be present.
  • Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD) – Persons with disorders of the temporomandibular joint or jaw joint may sometimes, feel ears to be hot, red and painful. Most of the triggers of jaw joint pain, may even stimulate the red ear reaction. Jaw joint may be affected due to injuries, arthritis or similar joint related conditions and need thorough investigation and treatment.
  • 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.

Unlike the normal blushing or emotional response, redness of ears in the red ear syndrome, does not subside after the emotion fades.

Other Causes of Ears to Become Red and Hot

Other conditions like those affecting the heart or the blood vessels, autoimmune disorders like relapsing polychondritis that cause inflammation of the cartilage and red hot ears, allergic reaction to food, smell or allergens, overexertion or physical exercises, too can lead to red and hot ears.

How to Manage Red and Hot Ears?

Identify the cause and the triggers to avoid both. TMD and cervical spine disorders need to be evaluated and treated appropriately. Migraine sufferers may need preventive treatment and lifestyle management to follow a healthy routine with minimal changes, to avoid triggers. People with high emotional response may need psychotherapy to understand their emotions and to manage their stress.

Consume a 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.

It is advisable to seek medical opinion, if the problem persists for long, repeats often or affects daily activities.

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: January 30, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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