Several cases of relapsing attacks during which the ear becomes red and patients experience a burning sensation have been reported in the literature. This combination of symptoms has been described as ‘red ear syndrome’ (RES). We report on a 7-year-old boy who had episodes of reddening, swelling and a burning sensation in one ear with local hyperthermia persisting for 3 years. The differential diagnosis included RES and erythromelalgia, as isolated auricular variants of erythromelalgia have been described and the symptoms are difficult to distinguish from RES. In this report, we discuss the similarities and differences between RES and erythromelalgia.