Pus in the ear - causes and therapy

Pus in the ear - causes and therapy

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Pus in the ear should always be taken seriously and must be clarified by a doctor. Home remedies and naturopathic treatment methods support the healing process.

What is pus and why does it arise?

Pus arises as part of a "defensive struggle". Leukocytes (white blood cells) migrate into an area of ​​inflammation. These die off, and there are also bacteria and tissue residues - all of this becomes pus.


Possible causes of pus in the ear are an ear infection (otitis externa), inner ear infection (labyrinthitis), otitis media (otitis media), injuries, abscesses, boils or foreign bodies in the ear.

Inflammation of the ear canal

Inflammation of the ear canal arises from damage to the skin in the outer ear canal. The causes of this are often improper cleaning or, for example, dirty bath water that has penetrated the ear. The ear canal is painfully swollen, red, and greasy to bloody secretion occurs. Pus in the ear is also possible. If the ear canal is completely relocated, those affected complain of hearing loss. If it is not bacteria but fungi that are responsible for the inflammation, the focus is not on pain but on itching. In severe cases, fever and local lymph node swelling are added to the symptoms already mentioned.

The attending doctor uses a smear to determine the pathogen. Depending on the cause, an ointment strip containing alcohol, antibiotics or cortisone is inserted into the ear canal. In lighter cases, appropriate ear drops are sufficient.

Tube catarrh

A tubal catarrh associated with a cold is common in children. The ear trumpet, also called the tuba auditiva or Eustachian tube, connects the nasopharynx with the middle ear. In the case of a tube catarrh, the mucous membrane of the ear trumpet (tuba auditiva, Eustachi tube) becomes inflamed. As a result, the pressure compensation in the middle ear no longer works properly. Especially in children, this often ignites due to the child's anatomical conditions. An acute tube catarrh is noticeable by a sudden feeling of pressure in the ear. In addition, there may be stinging ear pain, a crackling in the ear when swallowing and hearing loss. The secretion can be purulent. The tube catarrh is primarily treated with nose drops. Pain-relieving medications may be prescribed. An antibiotic is usually only necessary if there is a risk of otitis media.

Otitis media

The causes of pus in the ear can be otitis media. It is a serious illness and must be in the hands of a doctor. This ear infection mainly occurs in smaller children and is usually associated with an infection or an infectious disease, such as measles. Bacteria are often responsible for this. The pathogens reach the eardrum via the ear trumpet. The mucous membrane becomes inflamed, swells and a purulent secretion forms.

As a rule, sudden, massive pain occurs, which has a pulsating character. The children feel very sick, have a fever and possibly a headache. In infants and young children, the symptoms are often quite unspecific. They scream especially when they are supposed to lie down, want to be carried around constantly and suffer from diarrhea and / or vomiting. In addition, there is restlessness and a constant grasping of the affected ear. The ear can even hurt if you touch it gently. The secretion behind the eardrum can tear it. If this is the case, secretions suddenly emerge and the pain suddenly abates.

Inflammation of the inner ear (labyrinthitis)

An inflammation of the inner ear, as the name suggests, takes place in the inner ear, where the organ of balance is located. In this disease, which often occurs with pus in the ear, a visit to the doctor is also essential. Possible causes for this are, for example, an otitis media that has not been cured and has spread to the surrounding tissue. Spreading in the opposite direction is also possible. This means that an infection in the brain has migrated towards the inner ear. Viral labyrinthitis can be triggered by viruses that are also responsible for infectious diseases such as measles or mumps.

Symptoms of this serious illness include dizziness, massive nausea, vomiting, hearing loss and a tympanic effusion, which can consist of serous, but also bloody, slimy or purulent fluid. It may have to be relieved with the help of a surgical intervention.

Abscess or boil in the ear

A boil can develop where there is hair, that is, the inflammation, in the form of a small pus, forms around a hair. A boil can form in the outer ear canal. The cause of this is often improper cleaning with a cotton swab. The boil can be extremely painful, which may increase when chewing and speaking. As a rule, such a pimple filled with pus is a harmless affair. But since the external ear canal is difficult to see, a doctor should look at the boil. Scoring may be necessary to allow the pus to drain.

Pus in the ear can also be related to an abscess. This is a complication that can arise from a boil. However, this happens very rarely. No matter whether boil or abscess, the ear canal should not be pushed around on your own.

Foreign body in the ear

Foreign objects, such as small toys, a marble or the like, sometimes get into the ear, especially in small children. In adults, it is more a mosquito or beetle that has strayed into the ear. In any case, the foreign body must be removed and definitely by a doctor. The foreign body can cause inflammation of the ear canal and thus pus in the ear. If the "intruder" has injured the ear canal, special ear drops and possibly additional pain relievers are used.

Treatment procedures

If there is pus in the ear, a doctor should always be consulted, as already mentioned. But even if antibiotics, pain relievers or the like are used, naturopathic therapy, which is carried out at the same time, is a good way to accelerate healing.

Naturopathic therapy options

For pus in the ear, Schüssler salts are a simple, but very helpful therapeutic agent. No. 1 Calcium fluoratum and No. 11 Silicea are used here. If the pus can drain, but only then, the No. 12 Calcium sulfuricum is still used. Homeopathy uses remedies such as Myristica sebifera, Belladonna, Hepar sulfuris and Pyrogenium for pus collections.

If the pus in the ear occurs in connection with a tube catarrh, homeopathic recommendations include, for example, pulsatilla, potassium bichromicum, causticum and loofah operculata. Anthroposophic medicine uses ear drops to calm the attacked mucous membrane in the ear. However, this is only possible if the eardrum is intact. Phytotherapy is based on plants such as Echinacea to increase defense and Tropaeolum majus (nasturtium) against bacterial inflammation. Traditional Chinese medicine also uses acupuncture.

If the pus appears in the ear together with an otitis media, in addition to conventional medical treatment, acidic nitricum, barium carbonicum, belladonna, aconite, calcium sulfurium, mercurius solubilis and pulsatilla are recommended as homeopathic remedies. The Schüssler Salt Therapy uses No. 3 Ferrum phosphoricum, No. 4 Potassium chloratum and No. 11 Silicea.

In the case of recurring infections, which are often the cause of an ear infection, with or without pus, intestinal rehabilitation is indicated. Here, the intestine is “cleaned” and then rebuilt using suitable means so that the intestinal flora can again perform its defense function.

Home remedies

With pus in the ear, home remedies can relieve pain and speed up healing a little. For example, an onion wrap can significantly reduce symptoms and support healing. To do this, chop an onion, put it in a tissue, put it on the affected ear and fix it with a headband or hat. The whole thing is supported by warmth, for example with a hot water bottle. The onion wrap helps with pus in the ear in conjunction with a tube catarrh and otitis media.

Another home remedy is chamomile. It relieves pain, has an anti-inflammatory and healing effect. It is best to put chamomile flowers in a cotton bag, which is tied up and then warmed up with steam. When the sachet is no longer too hot, it is placed on the affected ear and fixed. An ear steam bath can also be made with the chamomile. A steam bath is prepared with a handful of chamomile flowers and boiling water. The aching ear is held over the rising vapors for a few minutes (when the water is no longer too hot)

If the eardrum is intact, homemade ear drops can help. Simply warm up some high-quality olive oil and drip it into the ear canal. A small drop of lavender essential oil can be added to the olive oil. That supports the effect.

For ear pain with or without pus in the ear, heat is the treatment of choice. For this, a small hot water bottle, which should not be too hot, or warm towels are put on.


The following preventive measures help to protect yourself from pus in the ear or ear infections. Earache can result from tight ear wax. To prevent this from happening, only the outer ear canal should be cleaned very gently and never with a cotton swab. The ear wax that has already hardened is removed with warmed water. This is best done in pairs. The affected person lies relaxed on the unaffected ear and the second person injects a little lukewarm water into the ear with a syringe without a needle. It is essential to ensure that there is no inflammation and that the eardrum is intact. The water should take effect for a few minutes and then the head should be held upside down over a vessel. This can be repeated again with pleasure. If the firm ear wax does not come off, professional ear cleaning by the doctor is recommended.

Chewing gum helps to chew gum so that the ear trumpet is properly ventilated. This is especially important if someone suffers from frequently recurring ear infections. It is advisable to dry the ears after each shower or bath. A cloth or a hair dryer is used for this. A headband or a hat protect against wind and cold. Sensitive ears are protected when bathing with so-called bath wool.

If you already have a cold before you go on a flight, it is important to bring in nasal drops several times. In addition, chewing gum should be chewed during the flight. (sw)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Susanne Waschke, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch


  • Uwe Ganzer; W. Arnold: Checklist Otolaryngology, Springer, 2011
  • G. Alexander et al .: The diseases of the auditory organ: Part Two Diseases of the Outer, Middle and Inner Ear · Otosclerosis · Tuberculosis · Syphilis · Tumors of the Ear, Springer, 1925
  • Norbert Suttorp et al .: Infectious diseases: understanding, recognizing, treating, Springer, 2003
  • A. Neher; M. Nagl; A.W. Scholtz: "Otitis externa", in: ENT, Volume 56 Issue 10, 2008, Springer Link
  • Dietrich Reinhardt, Thomas Nicolai, Klaus-Peter Zimmer: Therapy of Diseases in Childhood and Adolescence, Springer, 2014
  • Karl-Heinz Friese: Homeopathy in Otolaryngology: Targeted Treatment with Proven Indications, Hippocrates, 2005

Video: an abscess inside the ear? (August 2022).