A bug in an ear can give the mightiest of men the willies. We live in a world filled with insects ranging from microscopic dust mites to much larger insects that look like a small bird. Although, you needn’t worry about the latter making its way into your ear – it’s a little scary to think about. Insects making their way into an ear canal is actually a common occurrence, sometimes they make their way back out without anyone ever knowing it was there to begin with and other times they make their presence known with a vengeance. Many bugs wait for an opportunity to present itself and simply crawl or fly right into an ear canal. Insects can do some damage while inside, especially if they have stingers or pinchers.
An insect in an ear isn’t something that only happens to campers and those who love the outdoors, it can happen to anyone. Insects are quite frequently found inside a house. You have the same chance of having an insect enter your ear if you are out in the woods or snug as a bug in your bed at home.
Typically, an insect inside is hallmarked by crackling, popping, extremely loud buzz noise, intense itching or sudden pain. Killing the insect is of utmost importance before it does damage to the inside of the ear. An insect in an ear is a reason to seek emergency medical attention.
If you are far from a hospital, clinic or doctor – kill the insect and get to a doctor. If you are close to emergency medical attention – kill the insect and head to the doctor or hospital’s emergency room. If there is blood coming from the ear canal, don’t attempt to kill the insect – seek emergency treatment.
Killing an Insect in an Ear
Insert the tip of an eye dropper or needless draw syringe into one of the following olive or vegetable oil, mineral oil or baby oil.
Fill the dropper with the oil of your choice or what’s on hand.
Have the victim remain still and squeeze the eye dropper’s contents into the ear canal. Draw up more oil and add it to. Continue to add oil until it fills the canal to the top.
As you are adding oil, gently tug the ear lobe to help break any air bubbles and allow the oil to make its way down the canal.
Leave the oil in the ear for three to five minutes. The insect will drown in the oil as there is no air and the weight of the oil on the insect keeps it from moving deeper into the ear canal.
Place a towel, clean rag or napkin up to the ear and turn the victims head to allow the oil to run out onto the towel.
Head for the nearest doctor. An insect carries diseases. If the insect bit the inside of the ear or scratched the delicate skin or membranes, it can cause a severe infection.
Tips and Warnings
If a baby has an insect in his or her ear, go straight to the emergency room without delay. Do not add oil or try to pick it out yourself. Leave the bug catching and killing to a medical profession. Yes this is a reason for an emergency room visit.
In a pinch, if you don’t have any of the above mentioned oil and there is NO BLOOD and no previous damage to the canal or ear drum – you can use medicinal grade hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol or water. Although water isn’t very effective it may help to flush the insect out.
Do not try to pick the bug out with tweezers. Do not try to crush the bug with a Q-Tip. Do not put anything in your ear – you will cause damage.
Trying to pick the insect out of the ear canal can cause damage, cuts, stings and abrasions to the skin of the canal, infection, punctured ear drum and facial nerve damage.
Do not ever put bug spray into the ear canal – yes some people have actually tried that. Insect spray is harmful to not only insects, but humans also especially if you put it into an ear canal. The bug killer will be absorbed by the skin and given the close proximity of the ear to the brain – not a good idea.
Do not try citronella candles, spray or essential oils – see above – not a good idea.
Some people become literally frozen in fear from the sound and their general fear of insects. Some people have the exact opposite reaction and become quite agitated, while other have a reaction somewhere in between the two extremes.
Myth Number 1
Some think going into a dark room with one small light will coax the insect out. It will not make the insect come out. Most times the insect is too large to turn around and find its way out of an ear canal. The light may make the insect become agitated and cause more damage to the ear canal. It’s a bug – not a puppy – it’s not coming out because you wave a light. The only white light you want the insect to see is the one that happens just after they die.
Myth Number 2
A second popular myth that may float around the internet or crazy Aunt Sally says pick off a single blade of grass. Insert the grass into the victim’s ear. Leave the grass for two to three minutes to get the bug interested. Slowly pull the blade of grass out while the insect follows the blade of grass. Look – it’s bad enough that you have a bug in your ear why would stick more foreign objects inside. The only thing a blade of grass will do is give the insect a quick snack unless of course they are too panicked to eat because there is a human at the other end of the grass. Same goes for luring a bug with a flower.