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White film growing in ears. Could I have athlete's foot of the ear canal?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2000
Answered : 926 Questions
I have had a white "skin" or film growing in my ears. I am a "picker" so I peel it off daily, and it is back each day. I feel it started when I would put my ipod ear buds down on the gym floor to change weights here and there, then put them in again. And the sweat didn't help. Gross I know. Could I have athletes foot of the ear canal???? I tried applying over the counter creams for foot fungus, and they did help, but I was not consistant and it always came back.
Posted Sun, 29 Jul 2012 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Answered by Dr. Divya Kuttikrishnan 42 minutes later
Hello there,

Thanks for writing in.

The possibilities in your case could be seborrhoeic dermatitis, allergy, eczema, or psoriasis, but I would go more in favour of seborrhoeic dermatitis if you have an oily scalp / dandruff etc. If you suspect allergy, I would advise you to stay away from the allergen. Please follow good hygiene,do not leave your ear plugs on the floor and put it in your ear again.

I would suggest that you use ketoconazole shampoo on your scalp twice a week for a month( Massage shampoo onto wet hair and leave it on for five minutes.After 5 minutes rinse thoroughly). Apply antifungal creams on the ear twice a day . I feel you should get better with this treatment. However, if you feel no improvement in your symptoms in 2 weeks, I would suggest you visit your dermatologist.

Hope I have answered your queries. I will be happy to answer any further queries you might have.

In case you don't have any further queries,kindly accept my answer.Any reviews are welcome.

Have a great day.

Dr.Divya kuttikrishnan.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: White film growing in ears. Could I have athlete's foot of the ear canal? 25 hours later
Hello Dr XXXXXXX kuttikrishnan,
My scalp is not dry or oily, no flakes or dandruff. The only problem is XXXXXXX in the ear canal. Of course I no longer put my ear buds on the gym floor, stopped right after this ear problem started. Are you sure that athletes foot fungus cannot grow in the ear?
Thank you, XXXXXXX
Answered by Dr. Divya Kuttikrishnan 5 hours later

Fungal infections of the ear canal (Otomycosis)are common, but they normally present with symptoms like ear discharge, pain, severe itching, decreased hearing etc.The common fungi causing ear infections are candida and aspergillus.

Athletes foot (tinea pedis) is caused by the fungus trichophyton.If it is foot fungus, it is posssible you acquired it from the gym.It could be possible you have the athletes foot fungus, but not common. Since you have responded to antifungals , possibilities of seborrhoeic dermatitis and fungal infections exist.

However,I encourage you to visit your ENT doctor for a thorough examination of your ear canal.

Hope this helps.

Dr.Divya kuttikrishnan
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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