Hairy Ear (Ear Hair)

Hairy ear (auricular hypertrichosis) is hair growing on or in your outer ear, the part of your ear you can see. Ear hair doesn’t affect your hearing. But having noticeable amounts of ear hair may make you feel self-conscious about your appearance. There are any many ways to remove ear hair safely.


What is hairy ear?

Hairy ear (auricular hypertrichosis) is hair growing on or in your outer ear, the part of your ear you can see. Men and people assigned male at birth (AMAB) may develop hairy ears as they age. Women and people assigned female at birth (AFAB) rarely develop hairy ears.

Ear hair doesn’t affect your hearing, and it helps to protect your inner ear from debris. But having lots of ear hair may make you feel self-conscious about your appearance. There are many ways to remove ear hair safely.

Types of hair in ears

Auricular (aw-rik-yuh-lar) hypertrichosis (hahy-per-tri-koh-sis) may involve different hair types. Those hair types are:

  • Vellus hair. Often called “peach fuzz,” vellus hair is very fine and colorless hair that lies flat on your skin. Most people have vellus hair on various parts of their bodies. In hairy ear, people have unusual amounts of vellus hair on their outer ear, including their earlobe.
  • Terminal hair. Unlike soft vellus hair, terminal (tragi) hair is stiff and dark. It stands out from your skin and sticks out of your ear canal. Your ear canal is the funnel-shaped pathway to your eardrum.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Symptoms and Causes

What are hairy ear symptoms?

In general, hairy ear symptoms include tufts of dark hair sticking out of your ear canal or strands of dark hair growing on your outer ear. You may also have long strands of dark-colored hair growing on your outer ear.

What causes hairy ear?

Experts aren’t entirely sure why some people develop hairy ears, but changing testosterone levels may play a part. To understand why, it may help to know more about your ear and hair.

Each terminal hair you can see on your skin has a hair shaft and a hair root. The hair shaft is the part that sticks out of your skin. The hair root extends down within your skin’s layers. Hair follicles surround your hair roots. At their base, hair roots have round hair bulbs and hair papilla that supply hair roots with blood.

Everyone is born with a certain amount and type of hair. For example, fetuses in utero develop lanugo for protection and warmth. When babies are born, vellus hair covers their bodies, and their scalps may have terminal hair.

As people go through puberty, their bodies begin to create more androgens, including testosterone. As hormone levels rise, people begin developing terminal hair on various places throughout their bodies, including their faces, armpits, chest and belly. If you’re a man or AMAB, terminal hair covers about 90% of your body’s surface. If you’re a woman or AFAB, terminal hair covers about 30% of your body’s surface.

People AMAB have much higher testosterone levels than people AFAB. One theory behind hairy ears is that as men and people AMAB grow older, hair follicles in their ears and nose become more sensitive to testosterone and start to sprout more ear and nose hair.

Complications of hairy ears

Hairy ears are mostly a cosmetic issue. Having a lot of ear hair may increase your risk of swimmer’s ear (otitis externa).


Diagnosis and Tests

How are hairy ears diagnosed?

Healthcare providers diagnose hairy ears by examining your outer ear canal, earlobe and the edge of your ear.

Management and Treatment

How are hairy ears treated?

Hairy ear treatment involves shedding unwanted ear hair. Your ears are delicate, so you may want to discuss treatment options with a healthcare provider. There are two types of hair removal — depilation and epilation.


Depilation involves removing the hair shaft, the part of your ear hair you can see. Shaving and chemical depilatories are examples of depilation. Shaving the outside of your ear or using over-the-counter (OTC) depilatory cream or lotion to remove hair from the outside may solve some ear hair issues.


Epilation involves uprooting hair, including the hair shaft, follicle and bulb. Plucking ear hair is a type of epilation. Other epilation options include:

  • Waxing.
  • Sugaring.
  • Threading.
  • Lasers.
  • Intense pulsed light (IPL) system.
  • Photodynamic therapy.



Can ear hair be prevented?

No, but you can manage ear hair so it doesn’t affect your life.

Outlook / Prognosis

What can I expect if I have hairy ear?

Like all hair, ear hair comes back, even if you use hair removal treatments that uproot your hair shaft, follicle and hair bulb. Just like cutting your hair, threading your eyebrows or waxing, sugaring or shaving facial and leg hair, you’ll need regular trims or treatments to keep your ear hair from becoming noticeable.

Living With

How do I take care of myself?

Hairy ear isn’t a serious medical issue. Having ear hair may make you feel self-conscious about your appearance. Fortunately, you have several options for keeping your ear hair well managed.

Additional Common Questions

What is the average length of ear hair?

Ear hair can grow to be quite long, at least according to the editors of the Guinness Book of World Records. According to Guinness, the current record holder is a man in India with 7 inches of ear hair flowing from the center and top of his ears.

Is ear hair a symptom of an underlying illness?

It can be. For example, some studies suggest excessive ear hair is a symptom of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Maybe you noticed a tickling sensation in your ear and realized a bug in your ear wasn’t to blame. Or maybe you were washing your face when you spotted dark hairs curling around your earlobe. Either way, you probably asked yourself, “Why do I have hair there?” and then wondered what to do about it. Fortunately, ear hair isn’t a serious medical issue. Likewise, there are many safe ways to banish ear hair, at least temporarily. If you’re uneasy about treating your hairy ears on your own, ask a healthcare provider about treatment options.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 07/20/2023.

Learn more about our editorial process.

Appointments 216.444.8500