What is Otomycosis or Ear Fungus? Know Its Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Home Remedies.
What is Otomycosis or Ear Fungus?
Otomycosis or Ear Fungus is also known as mycotic otitis externa, Singapore ear and fungal ear infection.
Otomycosis or ear fungus as the name suggests is a type of fungal infection of the ear. Otomycosis is a fungal infection that targets the external portion of the ear. Otomycosis is an infection that can be caused by a variety of fungal species. Otomycosis or Ear fungus is commonly caused due to fungi such as Aspergillus or Candida. Actinomyces, Phycomycetes, and Rhizopus are other fungi that can cause Otomycosis in rare cases. Most of these fungal species exist in the environment around us and can easily come in contact with people, but not everyone gets affected with ear fungus. People who are more prone to infections, particularly individuals with weak immune system or patients suffering with diabetes mellitus, can easily get affected with Otomycosis.
Otomycosis or Ear fungus is usually misdiagnosed as a bacterial infection instead of fungal infection due to which the patient is prescribed antibiotic eardrops in the initial stages. It is only when the antibiotics do not improve the patient's condition that the ear fungus is suspected.
Causes and Risk Factors of Otomycosis or Ear Fungus
The Most Common Causes of Otomycosis or Ear Fungus Are:
- Contaminated water.
- Prolonged use of topical antibacterial agents.
Signs and Symptoms of Otomycosis or Ear Fungus
- Redness of the external ear canal.
- Thick and black, white or yellow discharge from the ear.
- Hearing problems in the affected ear.
- Feeling of fullness or blockage in the ear.
- Plugging of the ear.
- Narrowing of the external ear canal.
Treatment for Otomycosis or Ear Fungus
The initial step taken in the treatment of Otomycosis or Ear Fungus is to clean the affected ear as much as possible in order to remove the fungus. Suction can also be used to clean the ear. Cleansing sessions of the ear canal may be performed many times in a week. Analgesia may also be required. However expert's intervention is required for cleaning the ear in case of perforated eardrum as this condition may give rise to some secondary problems. After proper cleaning of the ear, eardrops that contain antifungal agents like ketoconazole, econazole or clotrimazole are given to the patient. In some cases eardrops that contain agents such as gentian violet or thimerosal are also prescribed as an alternate solution for Ear Fungus or Otomycosis. Oral antifungal agents are used only in severe cases.
Even though Otomycosis can easily be treated, few people, especially aged people who are suffering with diabetes mellitus, have higher chances of spreading the infection through the external ear going into the inner ear to the extent of the base of the skull. Such cases where the skull bone is affected can result in serious complications and the patient will have to be hospitalized in order to treat the condition and will require intravenous medications.
Hydrogen Peroxide To Treat Otomycosis or Ear Fungus:
Hydrogen peroxide can also be helpful in softening crusted or hard debris present in the ear, which has to be removed as this lowers the pH and decreases the functioning of aminoglycoside eardrops. This helps the ear canal to allow anti-fungal and acidifying topical medications to reach necessary portions in order to give their best. Flushing the ear must be avoided as this may also invite fungal infections.
Aluminium Acetate Solution or Burrow's Solution for Otomycosis or Ear Fungus:
5% of aluminum acetate solution or Burrow's solution not only decreases swelling, but also removes the debris.
Antifungal Medications To Treat Otomycosis or Ear Fungus:
Antifungal medications are used for treating Otomycosis or Ear Fungus. Antifungal medications include miconazole or clotrimazole, which are available over the counter for use against skin infections. There are other antifungal medications as well prepared specifically for treating otomycosis, which are prescribed by physicians. Oral medications may include fluconazole or ketoconazole; however, everyone cannot use these medicines, specifically individuals suffering with liver disease must strictly avoid them.
Home Remedies for Otomycosis or Ear Fungus
Given below are certain home remedies that are helpful in treating Otomycosis or Ear Fungus.
Dry Heat To Treat Otomycosis or Ear Fungus:
As mentioned before moist atmosphere is greatly responsible for fungal infections; therefore, it becomes necessary to keep the ear in a dry condition. Using a hair dryer carefully also helps in keeping the ear dry. Avoid cotton swabs as using this may scratch the ear canal, which may further result in ear infection.
Vinegar and Alcohol Solution To Treat Otomycosis or Ear Fungus:
Fungus commonly develops in the warm and moist atmosphere of the ear canal. Applying alcohol not only helps in evaporating moisture but also dries and disinfects the skin. The acidity present in vinegar also helps in reducing the growth of fungus in the ear. Using homemade solution of alcohol and vinegar prepared in equal measures also helps in relieving symptoms of otomycosis or ear fungus at the initial stages of infection.
Prognosis for Otomycosis or Ear Fungus
Antifungal therapy helps greatly in the treatment of Otomycosis or Ear Fungus in immunologically competent individuals. Higher chances of recurrences of the infection can be seen when the exact cause of the infection is not treated and if the physiological environment of the external auditory canal stays disturbed. Avoiding excessive moisture by not going in the water, receiving proper medical treatment for Otitis Externa and avoiding certain maneuvers in the external auditory canal such as frequent cleaning with a cotton bud help in treating ear fungus.
Tests to Diagnose Otomycosis or Ear Fungus
A complete subjective and physical examination is performed to diagnose Otomycosis or Ear Fungus. Discharge from the ear caused due to infection is also examined under the microscope in order to find the fungi involved and plan treatment accordingly.