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  • Writer's pictureDr. Koralla Raja Meghanadh

Otomycosis Causes – Fungal Ear Infection

Updated: Apr 1

Fungal ear infections, known as otomycosis, can be caused by fungi such as Aspergillus Niger (black-colored) or Candida (white-colored). Fungal ear infections, or Fungal Otitis Externa, are limited to the external ear canal.


Otomycosis Causes, causes of fungal ear infections

Several factors or causes can contribute to the occurrence of fungal ear infections. Here is a list

  1. Scratching the ear when water enters the ear canal

  2. Swimming

  3. Humidity in the atmosphere

  4. Adding oil drops to the ear canal

  5. Use of antibiotic eardrops without prescription and proper guidance


Scratching the ear when water enters the ear canal

Especially after showering, when water enters the ear, we can have a slight irritation. The irritation can urge us to manually clean our ears using a cotton swab, finger, or other objects.


Generally, wet skin is more delicate than dry skin. The scratch on the wet skin can be more profound than that on the dry. The scratch lowers the local immunity of the external ear, making the ear canal susceptible to both bacterial and fungal infections.


Swimmers can get chronic otitis externa, commonly known as swimmer’s ear. This infection can be fungal or bacterial, or both. In most cases, the swimmer can have both bacterial and fungal otitis externa.

Swimmer’s ear occurs due to the ear canal’s constant exposure to water and the chemicals in the swimming pool water. The chances of the occurrence increase if you scratch the wet skin in the ear canal.


Humidity in the atmosphere

The primary cause of both bacterial and fungal otitis externa is often scratching the ear, mainly when the ear canal is moist. Fungal otitis externa is more likely to occur than bacterial otitis externa in areas with high atmospheric humidity.


Otitis media (middle ear infection) is generally the most common type of ear infection, while bacterial otitis externa is the second most common. However, in humid climates like coastal regions, otomycosis becomes the second most common ear infection.


Adding oil drops to the ear canal

Many people believe that itchy ears indicate dry skin in the ear canal, but this is not always the case; it can also be a sign of a fungal ear infection. Some people use oil as ear drops to alleviate itching. While this may help if dry skin is the issue, it can have side effects that may lead to permanent damage.


Oil can serve as food for the fungus. Putting oil in the ear can trigger a fungal ear infection or exacerbate an existing one.


Use of antibiotic eardrops without prescription and proper guidance

Antibiotic ear drops should always be used with a prescription and according to the instructions provided by an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist. Bacteria and fungi coexist in a balanced environment, mutually keeping each other in check. However, using antibiotic ear drops disrupts this balance, creating an environment where fungus can thrive unchecked. This can lead to a more rapid spread of infection, making it harder to control.


When used for otomycosis, antibiotic ear drops can worsen the condition overnight, potentially leading to eardrum perforation. This perforation is more likely to be permanent, requiring major surgery.

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