Ear Mites in Humans: Symptoms and Treatments

Ear Mites in Humans Symptoms and Treatments

Ear mites, commonly found in animals, are a type of mites that live in the ear canal and feed on skin oil, and ear wax. Pet amimals like dogs and cats commonly get infected by ear mites. These mites may jump from one animal to the other, if they are in close contact. However, there are very less chances for humans to get ear mites from their pets or other animals.

What Are Human Ear Mites?

Human Ear Mites

To understand how humans get infected with ear mites, you need to first know the types of ear mites that can infect humans. There are two types of human ear mites: 

  • Otodectes cynotis: It is the most common type of ear mite, mainly found in pets (1). They can infect humans when they come in direct contact with the animal. 
  • Demodex mites: These mites usually do not affect humans but in recent years there have been instances where these mites have also caused in human ears. However, in most cases, such mites have not been able to survive in human ears (2).

What Are the Symptoms of Ear Mites in Humans?

The two major symptoms are-

  • Constant ear scratching 
  • Discharge from ear
  • Itchiness and irritation around ears

If an ear mite gets into a pet’s ear canal, the animal continuously scratches the ear. Sometimes, a dark discharge resembling coffee grounds can be seen coming out of their ears. It is very essential to identify an ear mite infection in pets as early as possible so that it can be controlled and prevented from further spreading to other animals and those living at home.                                

An ear mite infection is uncomfortable for both animals and people. It might cause itchiness, dark-coloured ear wax, ear irritation and redness around the ears (3). These symptoms may vary from person to person. 

Some people with ear mite infection may also suffer from tinnitus, a condition in which the person hears buzzing, ringing, or humming noise in the ear. This infection may also cause pressure or a sense of fullness in the ear. The ear skin might flake off. If not treated on time, ear mites can damage the ear canal and may result in hearing loss.

How Can Humans Get Ear Mites?

The most likely cause of infection to humans is transmission from a family pet. If you are in close contact with your pet who has an infection (like sleeping on the same bed or allowing your pet on the furniture), these mites might travel to your bedding and transmit to you. 

Ear mites need a host to survive on and as they attach to you, they start deriving nutrients from your body, specifically ear canal.

It is not necessary that you will get an ear infection only if you have pets at home. You can develop an infection even with other pets or animals on the road, if you are in close proximity to them. An infection is also likely possible while playing with the pets.

How to Treat Ear Mites in Humans?

Once you doubt having an ear infection and you have been in close contact with animals, it is important to make an appointment with an ear, nose and throat specialist. 

It is vital that you specify to the doctor your condition of being with animals recently. The doctor will take a swab sample from the ear and do an otoscope examination. He will examine deep inside the ear canal to check for any abnormality to confirm the presence or absence of ear mite (4).

However, because the mites are so tiny, they are not visible with the naked eyes. Examination of ear discharge under a microscope can confirm the presence of mites. 

In case of confirmation of presence of ear mites, the doctor will first flush out the ear canal with a saline solution for wax removal, and then may prescribe ear drops containing nystatin, gramicidin, neomycin, and triamcinolone acetonide. These relieve itching, inflammation and infection in the ear and stop the growth of fungi and bacteria. Sometimes, the live mites and their eggs need to be killed using an antiparasitic ear drop.

If the ear mite infection is left untreated for a long time, it may lead to a secondary bacterial infection in which the doctor may need to prescribe antibiotics to prevent recurrent infection.


The best way to avoid ear mites is to keep a close eye on family pets. Although human transmission is rare, there still are chances for such infection. 

If the pets get ear mites infection, it is important that you keep them separate till they are treated, especially from the children. Sanitize the items used by the pets. Still, if you have severe itchiness, tinnitus, or ear pressure, see your doctor. The sooner you visit a doctor, the earlier you will be able to recover. 

It is also important that you strengthen your immune system and maintain good personal hygiene to avoid getting infected with ear mites.

Feature Image Source – Canva


  1. ScienceDirect – Otodectes Cynotis
  2. National Library of Medicine – Human Demodex Mite: The Versatile Mite of Dermatological Importance
  3. ScienceDirect – Ear Mite
  4. ScienceDirect – Human otoacariasis: Demographic and clinical outcomes in patients with ear-canal ticks and a review of literature

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