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How to remove a tiny shell from ear canal? Answered

Okay, I know this is going to be weird, but my 4 year old daughter stuck a tiny shell in her ear canal about 3 weeks ago.  Its probably 5mm in diameter, flat snail shell.  It reminds me of a very small man hole cover.  We've seen several doctors, including a specialist, and we're just waiting to see if it will come closer to the outside before having to put her under general anesthesia to remove it.  So, my question is there any way to get it out without hurting her?  I figured the scientific minds here might know some way to remove it.  We've tried ear candles, flushing it with water, olive oil, ear drops, tweezers, even gluing a stick to it (yes really).  So, we've tried a lot of stuff with no luck.  I won't do anything harmful to my child and won't hold any one liable for suggestions.  There just has to be a physics based answer to removing this thing that we're missing!


Well, I wanted to post an update here.  We haven't done anything to harm out daughter.  I had pretty much given up on getting it out any other way than surgery (which is scheduled for the end of this month), until I had an idea.  I did a little online research and thought we'd give apple cider vinegar a try.  This was the idea that I was hoping someone here would have had for me.  Its a non-invasive "science" solution to the problem.  I've been treating her ear for five minutes at a time daily and the shell is slowly breaking apart.  So, if anyone else might have this problem in the future maybe my response will help.  I would definetly not try this if the eardrum was perforated, but for her its okay because the eardrum is intact.  Thanks to those who offered suggestions. 

We use "common" tools in the ER all the time- the early Makita cordless drill was an instant hit in the OR.  Tools extend our reach, leverage, strength, etc. 
The ear has a lot of staph so a good cleansing is wise before risking skin breaks and a triple antibiotic ointment could help after.

If the ear develops bright red discoloration, smelly drainage or large swelling you should seek higher grade antibiotics ASAP-  a staph infection can get deadly quickly.

What kind of doctors did you take your child to that didn't immediately get her to an emergency room to have this piece of shell removed before it could cause irreversable damage!  It can move further in as well as come out! The body is an amazing thing, but sometimes it needs help!

You must be joking. The medical establish in this country is rife with corruption and ineptitude. Maybe not for the chosen, but the rest of us are subject to the luck of the draw. (and I speak as one who was, until recently, supposedly fully insured.)

Leave it to the professionals.


A 5mm shell is going to be very firmly wedged - untrained mechanical intervention has a HIGH risk of damaging failure.

The reason for the proposed general is not because they plan to cut lumps out your daughter, but to spare her the distress caused by noisy, uncomfortable poking in the ear.

Did she cry when you tried those things?  Ask yourself why.



this is (fullstop) the best answer.

We have a "be nice" comment policy.   Blimey that nearly went
straight in the bin.

DONT DONT DONT DONT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

"vacuum pickup tools"....sorry for the mistype/