How to Remove an Insect From Your Ear
Summer is here and the bugs are out. Get ready to play outdoors! Insect repellents are now in demand. Hopefully, you use one that is all-natural.
You're outside, minding your own business, when suddenly you hear a loud buzzing sound. To your horror, you realize that the noise is actually coming from inside your own ears.
Yes, this can actually happen. Having a live insect in your ear can be very disturbing, not to mention annoying. Small insects, like moths, beetles, gnats, and other small winged critters, can accidentally enter our ears; however, once they are there, they cannot fly or crawl out anymore. They're stuck. They will try to fly their way out, and their movements inside our ears can be very uncomfortable, painful, itchy, and scary. In some cases, in may even lead to an infection.
Structure of the Outer and Inner Ear Canal
Never Probe the Ear Canal With a Tool
Never try to remove an insect with any kind of tool, including:
- cotton swabs (Q-tips)
- hair clips or bobby pins
This can make the situation much worse. It can lodge the insect deeper into your ear canal and may damage your eardrum, potentially causing permanent hearing loss.
It is best to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
However, you can also get rid of it immediately by the following techniques.
Step 1 - Keep Calm
How to Remove an Insect From Your Ear
- Keep Calm - If it is your child or someone else, ask them to stay calm and give him or her re-assurance. Don’t panic.
- Put the person in a comfortable position – Lean over or lie on a flat surface with the affected ear facing upward.
- Get some oil (baby oil, olive oil, vegetable oil, mineral oil) – Stay still and pour in oil gently through the affected ear. This will stop the insect from moving around inside the ear and the insect will eventually die. NOTE: If any of this oil is not readily available, you may use clean water, but make sure to slowly pour it through.
- Optional step - Wet a cotton ball with alcohol. Squeeze it and let droplets of alcohol go through the ear. Be careful, this may sting and can be painful. The alcohol will evaporate but the smell will pressure the insect to come out. This will also disinfect the ear. If you can't do this, proceed to number 5.
- Flush the ear with warm water – Use a syringe (without the needle) if one is available to swish it out. Otherwise, a measuring cup with a small spout will be good enough. Let the water slowly overflow and watch for the insect to be flushed out.
- Follow Up – Make a follow-up appointment with your doctor after this removal technique to ensure that you did not damage the inside of the ear during the course of removal.
Important Warning – As advised by the Mayo Clinic, DO NOT use this method if:
- For a child if ear tubes are in place.
- If you think the eardrum may be perforated (signs of this are pain, bleeding or discharge from the ear).
This is the basic game plan:
- Kill the insect by drowning it. The emergency is over once the insect is dead.
- See your doctor as soon as possible.
- This process usually works. However, if for some reasons the insect decides to stick around and won’t come out, seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
- When the insect comes out, carefully check it for some missing parts, like the head, legs, etc. If you notice any missing parts, again seek medical attention as soon as possible.
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Bonus Ear Fact
Did you know that earwax in small amounts could actually be useful for you?
It serves as natural cleanser as it moves out of the ear. It protects the skin of the ear canal and helps in the lubrication. Tests have also shown that it provides protection from bacteria, fungi, insects, and water.
The author is NOT a medical practitioner. However, she is certified in first aid and holds a degree in medical science. This information is only intended for first aid purposes. Reader’s discretion is advised in using the techniques.
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