What Causes Stethoscope Associated Otitis Externa?

What Causes Stethoscope Associated Otitis Externa?

What Causes Stethoscope Associated Otitis Externa?

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.


Stethoscope-associated otitis externa is a disorder of the ear. The infection causes itching, inflammation, soreness and discharge.  It starts off with minor irritation; a sign of things to come.  Once infection sets in antibiotic drops and even tablets or liquid may be required to treat the condition.  There are several ways in which stethoscopes can predispose to infections;

    Skin trauma.  If you often use a stethoscope this can lead to damage to the epithelium lining the ear canals. This breaches the body's protective defence system and allows bacteria in.
    Contamination.  Contact with patients can contaminate the earpieces with bacteria. These have the capability to cause infections.  Hanging around the neck the earpieces may brush against patients which can pass on bacteria.  Sharing a scope with others can also lead to you share bacteria and expose you to strains which may give you an ear infection.

So what can you do about this?

ZenPlugs Molded Stethoscope Earpiece kit can help prevent ear infections by being gentle on the skin.  You can mold earpieces to your own external ear shape in only few minutes.  These are kind to you and contain antibacterials which will kill all the bacteria known to cause ear infections.

Protect yourself from infections for many years with ZenPlugs Molded Stethoscope Earpieces.

Dr Toby Bateson