Various conditions can instigate outer ear pain. The ear pain can range from mild to severe and usually triggered by various heath conditions of the exterior or middle ear. It is important to note that the outer ear is the external part of the ear and comprised of the pinna, concha and the auditory meatus. These are the structures that gather sound energy and transmit it to the eardrum.
Trauma to the ear
Trauma to the external ear can cause cuts, bruising or fractures. Any form of direct trauma to the pinna or external part of the ear can cause the accumulation of blood in the affected area, thus rendering the pinna a formless, purple-colored mass.
The bruising can also increase the risk for outer ear infection, formation of abscess and death of the cartilage due to diminished flow of blood. Cuts or lacerations on the pinna along with avulsions or tearing away of the pinna can initiate outer ear pain as well.
The direct trauma that causes mandibular fractures can cause the pain to radiate to the outer ear. In case a region of the anterior ear canal becomes displaced during a jaw fracture, surgery is usually required to minimize or remove the disruptive fragments.
Otitis externa or swimmer’s ear is an infection of the ear canal. The ear canal is the tube-like opening that transmits sounds from the outside to the middle ear. This ear condition can be triggered by various bacteria or fungi and quite common among children who spend a lot of time in the water. On the other hand, even those who do not swim can also end up with this form of infection.
The presence of excess moisture in the exterior ear can cause the swelling and deterioration of the skin within the ear canal, providing an entry point for fungi or bacteria. The usual indications linked with otitis externa usually include intense ear pain that is aggravated once the external part of the ear is pressed or pulled, ear pain when chewing food, swelling and itching of the ear canal and an external ear that is swollen and red.
Blockage of the ear canal
The typical cause of a blocked ear canal is earwax or cerumen. Even though earwax might not trigger any issues, the buildup of earwax can cause discomfort, itchiness and hearing loss.
Earwax can be removed using ear irrigation that involves flushing the ear canal with warm water. Another type of ear canal blockage among children involves foreign objects inserted in the outer ear canal.
The usual objects that a child can insert into the ear include erasers, beads and beans. Instead of flushing the ear using water to remove the object and minimize discomfort, the doctor might utilize a blunt hook or small vacuum. In some circumstances, an insect such as a cockroach can block the ear canal. In such cases, the doctor will use mineral oil to eliminate the insect along with a numbing agent that helps during the extraction of the insect.