Nature frequently uses the same warning colors (red, yellow, black) that humans use to advertise dangerous situations. In this case, the yellow color seen in the ear canal above tells us that something is not normal inside this patient’s ear.
Dr. TK Venkatesan, an Otolaryngologist and CellScope Pioneer from Chicago, IL, explains that the color you see is caused by a fungal infection (otomycosis). Despite the unpleasant appearance and cautionary colors, there is usually no long term damage to hearing with this type of infection. In fact, the patient reported having only an “itchy and clogged” ear.
Fungal infections are more common in warm and humid climates, and so it is no wonder why these infections increase during the summer months. In fact, we highlighted another ear pic with a fungal infection taken by a Pioneer last summer.
Dr. Venkatesan also pointed out that fungal infections do not necessarily stem from an ear infection (i.e. AOM) but can cause redness and soreness in the canal.
Treatment for a fungal infection involves a meticulous cleaning with a microscope, application of topical anti-fugal medication and keeping the ear as dry as possible. The fungus should dissipate in a few weeks with this course of action.
Thank you, Dr. TK Venkatesan of Chicago ENT for sharing this interesting case with us!