Exostosis / Surfer’s Ear

Surfer’s ear is a common condition among long time surfers who have spent long hours ‘out the back looking for an epic barrel’!

New bone growth in the ear canal is stimulated by exposure to cold water and cold air.  Prolonged exposure to these elements can result in the ear canal almost completely closing over, as bony growths begin to occur around the circumference of the ear canal.

Surfer’s ear is known in the medical field as Exostosis, and while extensive surfing sessions can see some younger surfer’s affected, it usually appears in older surfers. What we see at Malouf Medical when we do an otoscopic examination are elevated lesions that protrude into the external auditory canal.

These bony growth are generally not dangerous and in many cases exostis is symptom free, however, due to the bone growing in lumps, water and dead skin can become trapped in the deep canal, resulting in ear infections and reduced hearing.

Request an appointment Call: 07 5536 8556

Signs & Symptoms


Exostosis can in some cases become painful and irritating in some patients, depending on location and size of the excess bony growths.

The most common signs of a person suffering from Surfer’s Ear/Exostosis include:

  • A temporary or ongoing decrease in hearing or hearing loss
  • An increase in ear infections
  • Pain
  • Difficulty removing water from the ear canal
  • The sensation of water in the ear
  • Blocked ears

In the first instance after a binaural otoscopic examination by our Ear Doctors – GPs trained in Ear Toiletting – or by our ENT surgeon, a treatment plan for Exostosis will be developed. In more serious cases, surgical intervention may be required to widen the ear canal by having the excess bony lumps removed from the canal altogether, or reduced in size. Our Ear Doctors can arrange a referral to an ENT surgeon for this delicate but reasonably straightforward surgery.

In less severe cases, a visit to the Coolangatta Ear Clinic within Malouf Medical to ensure that wax or other debris is not blocking the canal may suffice.

All procedures relating to Exostosis at Malouf Medical are performed by trained medical practitioners using operating microscopes, and Medicare rebates commonly apply.

Request an appointment Call: 07 5536 8556

Appointment referrals

All appointments for ENT services require a referral from either a GP, another specialist or a dentist.