A woman went to a clinic after struggling to sleep for days, where doctors discovered a spider crawling inside her ear.
The 64-year-old woman from Taiwan felt movement in her left ear for several nights in April, followed by clicking and rustling, before she decided to see a doctor. Doctors then found a small spider moving around her ear canal on examination.
It had shed its exoskeleton – otherwise known as its hard body covering – nearby.
Dr. Tenjin Wang, director of the department of otolaryngology at Tainan Municipal Hospital, told Sky News’ U.S. affiliate network NBC News that doctors used a tube to suck out the spider and exoskeleton. He added that the woman “didn’t feel any pain because the spider was very small” – about two to three millimeters.
As this was the first case he had seen of an insect molting in a human ear, he wrote a report on the case in the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Wang also urged people to get checked if they have the same symptoms.
Dr. David Castle, a physician at ENT Sinus and Allergy in South Florida, said the image of the insect in Dr. Wang’s report was “unusual and disturbing.”
But he added that the average ear, nose and throat specialist sees “dozens, if not more, of bugs or some kind of arthropod” in patients’ ears over the course of a career.
Dr Castle also said: There is an extremely sensitive, thin layer of skin that covers the ear canal, called the external auditory canal. Because of its sensitivity, you will obviously feel a creeping, tickling sensation that is almost unbearable.
In the new report, Dr. Wang recommends using lidocaine or ethanol to kill larger insects by stopping them from moving and damaging the ear.
But this should be avoided if the eardrum has a hole in it – which can be difficult for people to determine on their own.