Holi , Ear care & Ruptured Ear Drum:

This post is updated in March 2018

Holi Colours containing chemical may affect skin, hair, nose and ear. After Holi starts visits to ENT Or Dermatology clinics with itching, skin rashes, eye allergy, dry brittle hair, allergic rhinitis, allergic sore throat, bronchial asthma, ear pain, ear itching, perforated eardrum etc. Throwing balloons filled with colour or water is not safe, it can cause loss of vision or ruptured eardrum.

After Holi- What to do in certain situations?

Ear pain/Itching /ear blockage/colour in the ear:

While playing holi, colours or water may enter in the ear and may cause ear-itching, irritation, earache, ear blockage or discolourationUsually, slight discolouration will go away with time and you can use warm compress as a home remedy for mild ear pain.

Do not put any ear drops, water or oil in the ear and do not use earbuds to clean the ear. Read my blog on why we do not need any ear cleaning or How to clean our ear wax?

But if there is too much of colour, itching, pain in the ear, ruptured eardrum please visit an ENT doctor. You can find below in the post about ruptured eardrum diagnosis and treatment.

Airway allergy issues:

Toxins of synthetic colours may cause hypersensitive airway, allergic cold (Rhinitis) or bronchial asthma. For minor allergic rhinitis you can take anti allergic tablets or steroid nasal spray but If there is breathing difficulty you may need to visit an ENT near your area. 

Skin and Hair issues:

you can read few tips to protect skin and hair from holi-colour and after Holi care in this blog post – How to play safe & healthy holi. consult a dermatologist in case of skin allergy, irritation or rashes.

Holi & Ruptured Ear Drum:

 The eardrum may rupture when the ear is hit by water-filled balloons or gush of water enters inside the ear or trauma on the ear. A ruptured eardrum or perforated Tympanic membrane is a tear or hole in the eardrum. It usually heals within a few weeks without treatment. Sometimes, however, a procedure or surgical repair is required.

Eardrum or tympanic membrane is a thin membrane which separates ear canal from the middle ear. Read detail anatomy of ear 

Eardrum has two functions

Hearing- Transmission of sound from the ear canal to the middle ear

Protection- Covers & protects delicate structures of the middle and inner ear

Symptoms of ruptured eardrum:

Symptoms of a ruptured eardrum may include:

  • Ear pain
  • Drainage/discharge from the ear
  • Hearing loss /ear blockage
  • Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
  • Air escapes out of the ear on blowing of the nose
  • Spinning sensation

What to do next? Diagnosis of ruptured tympanic membrane:

Video Otoscopy by ENT Specialist: when ENT doctor will examine the ear he /she will be able to show you the tear in the eardrum which is usually irregular in shape and surrounded by blood clots.

Hearing tests by audiologist: Tuning fork tests and PT Audiometry is done by an audiologist may show a conductive hearing loss.

Other Causes Of ruptured eardrum:

1.Indirect trauma: Due to rapid pressure changes:

  • A blow to the ear (commonest)
  • Otitic barotrauma
  • Blast injury (explosion)
  • Jumping in the swimming pool
  • Forcible nose blowing
  1. Direct trauma:
  • Foreign body in the ear
  • Self-inflicted e.g. by a hairpin
  • Ear wash or instrumentation
  • Head injury, Fracture of the temporal bone

Treatment of Ruptured Eardrum:

Conservative treatment:

Most of the traumatic perforation of tympanic membrane heals spontaneously within a month. Early surgery is not indicated and waiting for three months should be allowed for healing. However close follow up visit to ENT doctor and repeat Audiometry is required to check any urgency of operation.

Treatment and precautions include:

  • Prophylactic antibiotic therapy
  • Decongestant nasal drops
  • Avoid ear contamination.
  • Do not wash the ear.
  • Do not use ear drops.
  • Do not blow the nose forcibly.

Eardrum patch:

If the hole in the eardrum doesn’t close on its own, a patch can be used to seal it. It is an OPd/office procedure, an ENT specialist will apply the chemical to the edges of the tear to stimulate growth and then apply a patch over the hole. The procedure may need to be repeated more than once before the hole closes.

Surgical treatment: TYMPANOPLASTY

Surgery (Tympanoplasty) is recommended –

  1. If Perforation fails to heal after three months, there is no healing by a patch or hole is not likely to heal with a patch.
  2.   If there is disruption of the ossicular chain surgery can be recommended earlier

Myringoplasty or tympanoplasty is repair of tympanic membrane perforation by a graft taken from patient own tissue. You can read more about tympanoplasty at my clinic website.

How to protect ear or take care of ear while playing holi:

  1. Do not play with throwing water and water balloons
  2. Use organic eco-friendly dry colours
  3. Take care of your ears so that water doesn’t enter inside the ear
  4. Use earplug

Use Holi to spread peace and happiness, Stay healthy!


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