Cerumen (wax) is a protective secretion produced in the outer ear canal. The ear canal is normally self cleansing; however the recommended hygiene procedure is a matter of cleaning the external opening with a washcloth over the index finger without entering the ear canal itself. In most cases, cerumen impaction (blockage) is self induced as a result of bad advice and attempts to clean the ears.
It may be relieved with detergent ear drops or irrigation performed by your doctor. Irrigation should be performed only when the tympanic membrane is known to be intact.
Foreign bodies in the ear canal are more frequent in children than in adults. It is essential not to displace the object and avoid nearing it to the tympanic membrane.
This disease normally presents itself with earache (otalgia), frequently accompanied by an itchy sensation (pruritus) and a pus discharge. The reason is often the result of a recent water exposure or mechanical trauma (scratching, cotton bud applicators).
External otitis is usually caused by a gram-negative bacteria or fungi.
During the medical examination is easy to see the skin eruption and swelling in the canal, often accompanied by pus.
Manipulation of the auricle often causes some pain. Protection of the ear from additional moisture and avoidance of further injury by scratching is fundamental to the treatment of external otitis.
Ear drops containing a mixture of amino glycoside, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory corticosteroid are generally quite effective but they must be prescribed under strict medical control.
Pruritus (itch) of the external auditory channel is a common problem. While it may be associated with external otitis or with a dermatological condition such as seborrheic dermatitis (flaking of skin) and psoriasis. Most cases are self induced either through scratching or over zealous ear cleaning.
To permit regeneration of the protective cerumen blankets, patients are instructed to avoid use of soap and water or cotton swabs in the ear canal. Excessively dry canal skin may benefit from the application of mineral oil, to help counteract dryness and repel moisture.
Remember that in summer most of the problems are caused by water and sun in combination with air conditioning.
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