A runny ear in children

A stain on the pillow or dried crusts in the ear, these things can indicate a runny ear. A runny ear is a common ailment in children. We have listed here what it is caused by and what you can do about it.

What is a runny ear

With a runny ear, fluid comes out of the ear. In most cases, all you see is a moisture stain on the pillow or dried crusts in the auricle. The fluid may be watery and clear in colour, or it may contain blood or pus. Prior to a runny ear, your child may have a slight cold or earache.

A runny ear is common in children, but babies and adults can also suffer from it.

How a runny ear occurs

If your child has a runny ear, there is often a hole in the eardrum where the fluid from the middle ear exits. The fluid coming out of the ears is often caused by inflammation in the middle ear, which is the part behind the eardrum. It can also be a result of ear eczema or an inflammation in the external ear canal.

What to do about it

If your child has a runny ear, they generally do not need immediate medication. If a runny ear persists for a week or more, it is advised to see your GP. The GP will prescribe ear drops or other medication to stop a runny ear. If fluid is still coming out of the ear after 2 weeks, the GP will probably recommend seeing an ENT specialist.

Try to avoid swimming if your child has a runny ear. This is not necessarily dangerous, but if water gets into the ear, your child may become dizzy while swimming. Showering or taking a bath (under supervision) is therefore just fine!