The external ear consists of elastic cartilage
framework covered by skin. The skin is loosely attached to the
cartilage and trauma can lead to fluid or blood collections which
can turn into wrestler’s ear – (please see article).
part of the external ear is the ear canal. It is about 3 cm long
and is part cartilage and part bone. The cartilaginous portion
contains hairs and cerumen(wax) glands. The ear canal usually has
an upward turn which narrows- so material (wax, foreign bodies)
pushed in (Q-tips, fingers) becomes lodged or impacted.
Infections of the skin of the ear canal
cause swelling into the lumen, causing it to narrow more. The skin
can become so edematous as to close the ear. It is very painful.
Eardrops are the first line of treatment. If the ear is closed,
a wick is placed thru the closed area to absorb the drops so the
external otitis (swimmer’s ear) will resolve . Rarely are antibiotics
Patients who are immunocompromised , such as those with Diabetes,
can have severe problems with this infection, and should be treated
quickly by a specialist.
Some chronic skin conditions can cause problems with the external
ear canal. Dermatologic drops, cleaning, and keeping the ear
dry are important.
Dr. Wladecki suggests
NOT using fingers, Q-tips, washcloths, etc, into the
This can cause yeast or fungal infections. A careful irrigation
with a solution of equal parts distilled white vinegar and rubbing
alcohol cleans and dries the ear. Also Drying the ear with a
hair dryer after baths, showers, or swimming can help.
Articles & Medical