Chinese media recently reported the bizarre case of a 10-yer-old boy who allegedly developed black mold in his ear canal because of wearing earbuds for long periods of time.
You would think that the human body had some way of preventing mould from developing, even in dark and secluded orifices like the ear canals, but it turns out that with the right conditions fungal infections can occur in our ears. Doctors at the Shunyi Women and Children’s Hospital in Beijing recently reported the case of a young boy who came in with his mother complaining of ear pain and stuffiness-like sensation. Upon examination, he was diagnosed with ear canal mycosis, or in simple terms – mold in the ear canal.
The causes of ear canal mycosis can vary, but in this particular case it was established that the infection had been caused by a combination of factors. The 10-year-old boy had a habit of picking his ears, and routinely damaged the sensitive tissue there. Because he also used in-ear headphones for long periods of time, he also prevented the natural ventilation of the ear canals, and the humidity made it possible for the mould to develop.
Dr. Wu Yuhua, from the Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery of Shunyi Women and Children’s Hospital, said that the increased humidity and elevated temperature were a side-effect of wearing the headphones for too long, and provided good conditions for mold growth. Still, the mycosis was in no small part caused by the ear-picking as well, which caused local mucosal damage.
The 10-year-old boy is undergoing treatment and should make a full recovery in a matter of weeks. Still, doctors warn that if left untreated such fungal infections can cause all sorts of problems culminating with hearing loss.