Stethoscope associated otitis externa is a disorder of the outer ear. Infection causes discomfort and soreness. It is caused by the ear canals becoming damp and contaminated by bacteria from the earpieces. These can accumulate from the environment or from other people's ears if they borrow your stethoscope. Early signs include soreness and itching. This can progress to full blown ear infection if left unchecked. Symptoms include pain, swelling and redness. Reduced hearing occurs due to accumulation of skin slough and pus in the ear canal.
Treatment includes antibiotic drops and oral antibiotics in severe cases. Drops may include gentamicin, an antibiotic. Acetic acid which is an antifungal and steroids to reduce inflammation may also be included. Antibiotics are prescription only so sufferers need to visit their GP. If left undiagnosed and untreated the ailment can become severe. Then it may need a longer course of more powerful treatment. In the worst cases significant skin damage, bone invasion and even meningitis can occur. These degree of infection is thankfully rare.
The condition can be prevented though using antibacterial earpieces like these from ZenPlugs. They are the only self-mold DIY molded stethoscope earpieces in the world. This makes them comfortable and less traumatic on the delicate skin lining the ear. The earpieces spread the pressure from the spring of the stethoscope arm over a larger area. This reduces pain and discomfort. They are available in many colours so you can choose the best one for you. Buy now from the ZenPlugs website.