What are the conditions that affect the outer ear?

The outer ear is comprised of the pinna and the ear canal. There are various conditions that affect the outer ear. In most cases, inflammation often occurs in the outer ear and is a usual site for allergies, trauma and growths. Take note that earwax is also considered as a common issue of the outer ear. Most of the issues that affect the outer ear can be managed.


Viruses, bacteria or fungi can cause the inflammation of the skin within the ear canal. This is usually called otitis externa which is an infection of the ear canal that typically occurs among swimmers. The condition can cause pain, itchiness, watery discharge and even hearing loss. The doctor will clean the canal and apply antibiotic drops and prescribe 2% acetic acid to prevent it from recurring.

Outer ear

Trauma to the ear can lead to the formation of hematoma which is the accumulation of blood between the cartilage of the outer ear and the perichondrium.

The growth of fungi in the skin of the ear canal can occur due to high humidity and excess moisture. The symptoms include pain, itchiness and ringing in the ear. The treatment involves cleaning the affected ear and application of antifungal ear drops.

Always remember that otitis externa can also develop among those who scratch the ear or regularly use ear buds or cleaning objects to clean the wax out of the ear. These can irritate the skin lining the canal. If the individual is allergic to hairspray, cosmetics, shampoos and earrings, it can also cause otitis externa.


Trauma to the ear can lead to the formation of hematoma which is the accumulation of blood between the cartilage of the outer ear and the perichondrium. It can lead to the cauliflower-shaped irregularity of the ear if not treated. The doctor will open up the affected area and release the blood to prevent the deformity.

Perichondritis is an infection of the tissues surrounding the cartilage of the earlobe. This is usually due to injury after insect bites or ear piercings. The whole ear turns red in color, swells and becomes sore. This condition requires medical attention as soon as possible.

Wax and foreign objects

The glands in the ear canal produce wax naturally. Once excess amount is produced, it becomes an issue and can lead to itchiness, occasional pain and ear block. The doctor will remove the wax using instruments or flush it out using a syringe.

Foreign objects lodged into the ear are also an issue especially among young children. Among adults, foreign objects such as cotton buds can be left behind when cleaning the ear. They should be removed by a doctor who uses the appropriate tools. By enrolling in a first aid class, you can learn how to handle foreign objects from the ear.


Non-cancerous or cancerous developments can also occur in the exterior ear. Benign growths such as keloids, cysts and osteomas are considered common. The sebaceous cysts are pouches that are packed with secretions. The osteomas which as bony growths can clog the exterior ear and can cause a certain level of hearing loss.

Keloids are the excess scar tissue on the earlobe that is quite common after ear piercing and can be surgically removed. Skin cancer can develop on the outer ear after exposure to the sun. This can be treated with surgery or radiation.


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