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Perforated Eardrum (Follow-Up Visit): How to Care for Your Child

Keeping a perforated eardrum (an eardrum with a hole in it) dry is the best way to help it heal. 

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A perforated eardrum can be caused by an injury, infection, or ear tubes that have fallen out before the eardrum has fully healed.

In most cases, the hole closes on its own in a few weeks and hearing returns to normal. In some cases it can take months or longer for the eardrum to heal. Sometimes, a small paper patch or other surgery is needed to repair a hole that hasn't healed.

Your health care provider examined the ear, checked your child's hearing, and discussed the plan to monitor and care for the eardrum.

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  • Don't use over-the-counter ear drops in your child's ear unless your health care provider tells you to do so.

  • Do not clean the inside of your child's ear. Never stick cotton swabs or other objects in the ear.

  • Your child should avoid getting water in the ear until it heals:

    • For showering or bathing, gently place a waterproof earplug or cotton ball coated with petroleum jelly into the ear.

    • Your child should not swim or dive.

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  • Keep all follow-up appointments with your health care provider.

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Your child:

  • Has new drainage from the ear.

  • Has ear pain.

  • Has increased hearing loss.

  • Has bleeding from the ear.

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