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Earmold Allergies

Some people have a bad reaction to earmolds

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Updated June 05, 2011

When I was a child, I was so sensitive to my pink silicone ear molds that the audiologist concluded I was allergic. He had to develop a special material just for me so that I could wear ear molds. Now I know that my problem was probably a condition known as "contact dermatitis."

Earmold Allergy Problems

Earmold allergies was a topic on the forum. The discussion was begun by Donnie, who wrote: "I had an impression taken for a new earmold, today. Something went terribly wrong, and the impression material got past the sponge over the eardrum. The material wouldn't come out. We had to wiggle and pull to get it out, and it was extremely painful. I put my hearing aid back in, and could hear OK, but my ear still hurt. When I got home, awhile later, I had my husband look in my ear. He found quite a bit of blood, and I tried gently removing it, and some very dark red chunks of something came out. Possibly blood clots, but I'm not sure. I don't know if my eardrum was damaged, but I'm afraid it may have been.

Has anyone had this happen to them, and if so, what can I expect from this nightmare situation?"

One of the most helpful responses came from AboutMemberHouston, who wrote:"I am sorry to hear about the ear mold reaction. I know it is painful. My case was different.....I find this interesting...I have had several bouts with reactions to the molds myself. I would have never thought of the color of the impression would have made a difference, and from what I can see on these posts, the PINK molds seem to have a high reaction cases as to the BLUE or GREEN ones.

Although I do not remember what color my impression was, but I do remember my ears swelled shut with the molds in my ears on the 1st day I got them. I kept telling my audiologist that something was wrong but he shrugged it off saying I wasn't used to them. In the meantime, I suffered for two years(not knowing I was allergic to silicone) with excessive draining, foul smell, bleeding canals, and the most painful part was it became so raw that several layers of skin was gone from both ears.

This continued even after I saw several different audiologists, and none could explain why the conditions and kept sending me to the ENT doctors and the doc's kept diagnosising it as "ear infections" until I finally saw a dermatologist (skin doctor). My doctor instantly saw the problem that it was an allergy to silicone=based molds.

I finally found an audiology that could help me, The Texas ENT center. They are great to work with and I have not had a problem with any of the molds. I had to go wtih HARD, CLEAR, and NON-SILICONE molds. I sure do miss the soft molds, but it was either that or suffer.:"

Why Earmold Allergies May Occur

Earmold allergies happen because the body sees an earmold as a "foreign" substance and reacts accordingly. The wearer could also be very sensitive to the chemicals present in the earmold.

Earmold Allergy Symptoms

The website FreeHearingTest.com has a photograph of an ear with contact dermatitis. Itching and inflammation or even pain when an earmold is worn, are typical symptoms.

Solutions for Earmold Allergies

One solution is to use hypoallergenic earmold material such as polyethylene or medical grade silicone. Quite a few companies make such materials. Two of them are
  • Custom Earmold Labs, based in Ontario
  • Earmold Design, Inc., based in Minneapolis
Another option, if it is feasible, is an implantable hearing aid. If only a small part of the ear is affected, the earmold can be modified.

Research Into Earmold Allergies

PubMed from the National Institutes of Health has many articles on earmold allergies. Here is just one citation: Clicking on the above link will bring up the article, and on that page, there is a clickable link, "Related articles, links" in the upper right corner. Clicking on "related articles" brings up hundreds of similar articles.

Comments by About Visitors

Actually, Donnie's example represents trauma to the ear canal, and possibly the ear drum due to the ear mold making process. It appears from Donnie's comments that the source of the problem was the earmold impression material not stopping at the otoblock in the ear. Had the otoblock successfully contained the earmold impression material, there may not have been any 'reaction'. This type of ear trauma is very different from the types of allergic reactions that occur when individuals are sensitive to earmold impression material, or the finished earmold. If you experience pain or discomfort during the earmold impression process, following the earmold impression, or after the earmold is fit, contact your audiologist immediately. Often complications from earmold impression making and ear mold sensitivities must be managed by and Ear Nose and Throat physician.

Readers Respond: Earmold Irritation

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