What Causes Ear Blisters?

N. Madison

There are many potential causes of ear blisters, which are fluid-filled sores that can occur on a person's outer ear or inside his ear. Among the most common causes are infections, which can develop because of viruses or bacteria, and skin cancer. A person could also develop ear blisters, particularly those on the outer ear, when he has a severe sunburn. These blisters also sometimes form because of a skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis. Additionally, a nerve condition called Ramsey Hunt syndrome is often first diagnosed because of the presence of blisters on or in a person's ears.

A severe sunburn may cause ear blisters.
A severe sunburn may cause ear blisters.

When a person develops blisters on the ears, there is a range of medical conditions that could be causing them. One potential cause is an ear infection. In some cases, the virus or bacterium that caused the ear infection may also cause blisters in the ear. Individuals who are prone to ear infections and suffer from reoccurring bouts may be more likely to develop blisters, but anyone can develop them.

People who fail to apply adequate sunscreen to the ears and other vulnerable places could experience sunburn and blistering.
People who fail to apply adequate sunscreen to the ears and other vulnerable places could experience sunburn and blistering.

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Sometimes a severe sunburn is the cause of an ear blister. Many people fail to apply sunscreen to less noticeable parts of their bodies when they plan to spend time out in the sun, and this includes the ears. Forgetting to apply sunscreen to the ears can prove a mistake, however, as the skin in this area can prove just as susceptible to the sun. When sunburn is the culprit, a person may develop the same redness, discomfort, and blistering he would expect from a sunburn on another part of his body.

Medical help may be required to treat ear blisters.
Medical help may be required to treat ear blisters.

Certain skin conditions can also cause blisters to form on or in a person's ears. One of the most common is eczema, which is a skin condition marked by dry, irritated, itchy patches of skin that sometimes bleed. Psoriasis, a skin condition marked by overactive skin cells that cause lesions, can cause this type of blister as well. Additionally, skin cancer is sometimes the problem when a person develops ear blisters.

Eczema can cause ear blisters.
Eczema can cause ear blisters.

A condition called Ramsey Hunt syndrome may also cause ear blisters. This syndrome stems from the effects of shingles — a condition that develops because of the same virus that causes chicken pox — on a nerve near a person's ear. It can cause not only blisters in the ear, but also hearing loss. This condition even has the potential to paralyze part of a person's face.

Ear infections may cause ear blisters.
Ear infections may cause ear blisters.

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Discussion Comments


I began getting ear blisters when I wore the cover-your-ear headphones when I went riding, but only one ear blistered. Each time they varied in size and shape. Once, I had one the size of a quarter. If you have sensitive ears, which I have, keep anything that may rub off of them.


@indigomoth - You want to be careful about washing your ears though. The skin there is very delicate and you might end up causing more problems than you solve.

Blisters can also occur when you damage the skin slightly and bacteria is allowed into it, so that's a risk as well.

And if someone has a mild skin condition, washing away protective oils can actually make it worse.

I guess my point is that I would be very careful washing my ears with ordinary soap. If you wouldn't use it on your face, you probably shouldn't use it with your ears. Maybe use a more delicate cleanser, or maybe just wipe them occasionally with a makeup removing towel. That should do more than enough to prevent blisters and pimples, unless there is some other reason for them happening.


@umbra21 - It might just mean that you need to clean the surface of your ear more often. I know it's a pain, because you have to be very careful not to get water into the ear canal (where it can cause an infection, or simply be quite uncomfortable for a while) but it's worth it. I don't think people wash their ears as regularly as they used to. I suspect many people just let them get a rinse when they wash their hair, but that's probably not enough.


Sometimes I will basically just get what seems like a pimple just inside of my ear. I don't know why it happens, but I do know my dad used to get them too. They are really painful, but ultimately harmless and I've discovered the best way to treat them is to touch them as little as possible. Maybe put a dab of disinfectant on them, but otherwise just leave them alone.

I used to try and pick at them, hoping it would help, or maybe just unable to stop myself and it always just made them more sore and didn't help at all.

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