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Foreign Body in Ear

Young children seem to enjoy putting foreign objects in their ear canals. Some common objects are erasers, beads, food, and cotton.

First Aid

If a live insect is in your child's ear canal, take your child into a dark room and shine a light by the ear. The insect will often come out on its own. If this fails, kill the intruder by pouring in some alcohol. You can use wine or beer if you have no rubbing alcohol. Then remove the insect by irrigating the canal with water and an ear syringe (or nasal suction bulb).

Make one simple attempt to remove any other objects. Turn down the side of the head where the ear with the object is. Wiggle the earlobe and gently shake the head at the same time and try to get the object to fall out with the help of gravity.

NOTE: DO NOT try to remove the object by putting tweezers, fingers, or any other device into the ear canal. This almost always pushes the object in farther and makes removal by the healthcare provider very difficult. Watch your child closely to make sure that he doesn't push the object in.

Call your child's healthcare provider immediately if:

  • Your child has a foreign body in the ear canal AND these measures don't remove it.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2013.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2006-03-02
Last reviewed: 2012-05-14
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2013 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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