Swollen earlobe

Otitis externa

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Otitis externa involves inflammation which is triggered by an infection. In this type of infection, the inflammation is limited to the exterior part of the ear canal and does not involve the eardrum

What are the possible causes?

As an infection that involves the skin of the ear canal, it is considered quite common. It is important to note that the ear canal is a narrow, warm tunnel closed at one end which provides an ideal environment for microorganisms to thrive if given the chance. Most cases of infections are triggered by bacteria. In some instances, it might be brought about by a yeast or fungal infection.

Factors that increases the risk for developing otitis externa include the following:

Substances that enter the ear

If the water enters the ear regularly, this provides moisture that allows germs to grow. It can also trigger itchiness that urges the individual to poke or scratch the ear. This can impair the skin in the ear canal and trigger inflammation.

Otitis externa
Psoriasis or eczema can develop in the ear canal and causes the skin to become inflamed and flaky.

The inflamed skin is at risk for infection. This causes a constant circle where the inflammation and infection intensifies the itchiness and the more the individual scratches, the worse it will be.


Those who regularly swim is prone to develop otitis externa since water enters the ear canal. It is more likely to occur if swimming in dirty water such as in ponds.

Warm weather

Otitis externa is likely to develop during humid, warm weather. It is quite common in hot countries.

Skin issues

Psoriasis or eczema can develop in the ear canal and causes the skin to become inflamed and flaky. Once this occurs, infection is likely to occur.

Excessive production of earwax

The presence of excess earwax can trap water and debris within the canal. Bacteria can easily thrive in these conditions and allows infection to develop.

Middle ear infections

Oftentimes, middle ear infection can cause continuous drainage that can get stuck in the canal and cause the development of otitis externa.

What are the indications?

The usual signs and symptoms include the following:

  • Ear drainage
  • Itchiness
  • Brief dulled hearing
  • Ear pain
  • There is a sensation that the ear feels full or blocked

There are cases in which both ears are affected. Nevertheless, otitis externa only affects one ear. In some cases, the glands in the neck or around the ear can become sore or enlarged.

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