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J Laryngol Otol. 1998 Jul;112(7):613-6.

Study of common aerobic flora of human cerumen.

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Department of Preventive Medicine & Public Health, University of La Laguna, Spain.


Cerumen is the product of the secretion of the sebaceous, ceruminous or apocrine glands together with cells exfoliated from the cornified stratum of the epithelium of the external auditory canal (EAC). In the present study we identified and quantified common flora of human cerumen. The mean count obtained was 10(6) microorganisms per ml of cerumen suspension. In 24 pools of cerumen (33.3 per cent) the isolates were monomicrobial, Staphylococcus epidermidis (12), Corynebacterium spp (10), Staphylococcus aureus (1) and Streptococcus saprophyticum (1). In 48 pools (66.6 per cent) we found polymicrobial isolates. The most commonly isolated bacteria in these polymicrobial isolates were S. epidermidis (35) and Corynebacterium spp. (43). It is noteworthy that there were isolates of Candida albicans in three cases; in one case of Pseudomonas stutzeri, in one case of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and, on seven occasions, of S. aureus. The organisms isolated as common bacterial components of human cerumen in our experience were similar to those found by other authors. However, the mean count was much higher. This could be related to climatic conditions and to the length of time the cerumen had remained in the external auditory canal.

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