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Children's Health

What causes `red ears`?

03/29/2007

Question:

I recently saw an 11 year old child in our Derm office. Mother stated that her son`s only symptom was the frequent development of bright red ears. A ROS was unremarkable except that the child was mildly obese. Is this symptom indicative of a possible food allergy or other etiology?

Answer:

As with so many things in medicine, anything may be possible and it is almost impossible to determine the underlying cause of a single, non-dangerous (non-toxic) symptom.

From the information provided, there are two pieces of information that lead me to the idea that the condition is not likely harmful.  The first is this child being mildly obese, as most harmful conditions would likely cause weight loss, the second is that the only symptom the mother describes is backed up by your examination as the only abnormal physical finding.

As an 11 year old boy, likely starting puberty, red ears may be anything from blushing to flushing, but without further information regarding the timing and frequency of the red ears, it is hard to be more specific.

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Response by:

Michael Spigarelli, MD, PhD
Formerly, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati