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Pulling at the ears

Children younger than 2 to 3 years old may be too young to tell you when they are in pain. Pulling at the ears may be a sign of ear discomfort, especially if other symptoms, such as a fever, are also present. Other reasons that a young child may pull at his or her ears include:

  • Itching in the ear canal from soap or shampoo.
  • Earwax compacted in the ear canal. This may occur when a caregiver cleans the ear with a sharp object, such as a cotton swab, finger nail, or bobby pin.
  • Fluid in the middle ear (effusion) without infection.
  • Having recently discovered his or her ears.
By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Last Revised February 12, 2010

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 12, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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