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Infection: Is that the feeling in my ear?

Posted on June 23, 2015

Our patients commonly present with symptoms of wax impaction.

  • Blocked ear sensation
  • Tinnitus
  • Itchy ear
  • Change in hearing

On examination wax impaction is diagnosed by our Nurses and then removed by micro suction or curettage, resolving the symptoms.

Cerumen impaction

Cerumen impaction

Sometimes upon examination, our Nurses find an unusual appearance of the outer ear and will ask you to seek medical advise as there may be an infection in the ear.

Below is information on Otitis Externa, an infection of the outer ear.

Acute Otitis Externa

Acute Otitis Externa

Risk Factors:

  • Frequent wetting of ears from swimming, surfing or daily hair washing
  • Diabetes
  • Psoriasis
  • People with abnormal migration of keratin (source)

The most frequent causes of otitis externa are:

General causes:
  • General skin conditions such as: eczema, psoriasis
  • Generalised skin infections such as: impetigo or neurodermatitis
Local causes:
  • Trauma to the ear canal from cotton bud, dirty finger nail etc.
  • Local infection
  • Bacterial: Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus
  • Fungal: Candida, Aspergillus
  • Viral
  • Middle ear discharge (source)


  • Ear pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Scaly skin appearance with some erythema
  • Discharging or smelly ear
  • Narrowed external auditory canal with creamy, cheese-like discharge
  • Complete occlusion of the external auditory canal or spreading pinna cellulitis¬† (source)


  • An ear swab should be taken for microbiological examination
  • Micro suction clearance
  • Local medication: antibiotic, anti fungal or steroid ear drops
  • Systemic antibiotic for gross cellulitis
  • Follow up with the medical practitioner to ensure infection has cleared (source)


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