What Causes Ear Fungal Infections?

The organisms Aspergillus and Candida are responsible for approximately 90 percent of all fungal ear infections, or otomycosis, states Patient. Otomycosis is more common in people who engage in aquatic sports and those who live in hot climates, although the exact epidemiology is nebulous. Lack of earwax, eczema, high humidity and local trauma to the ear canal are factors that may increase the chances of contracting otomycosis.

Otomycosis' link to swimming may result from the associated loss of earwax during the activity, as earwax contains antifungal and antibacterial properties, writes Patient. Symptoms of otomycosis include inflammation, scaling and severe itching accompanied by discharge. The defining feature of otomycosis in comparison to similar ear infections, such as bacterial otitis externa, is the presence of long, white filaments on the skin. The failure of antibiotics and patient history can also determine otomycosis as the cause of the ear infection.

Otomycosis is a chronic, recurring ailment unless it receives proper treatment, according to Patient. Weekly ear canal cleaning from a doctor can allow pH levels to normalize, in addition to removing debris and discharge. Pain-relieving medications are necessary during treatment. Patients must keep the ear dry and resist the urge to scratch. Burow's solution can remove debris and alleviate inflammation, and antifungal ear drops can eliminate the infectious organism. Perforated eardrums may present complications during treatment. Patients with healthy immune systems typically have excellent prognoses.