Ear problems - what is normal?

Ear size, position and shape are important for facial harmony. The beauty of a face can certainly be enhanced by a perfect ear - small and neat and in the right position - a long way from the mouth, with the top of the ear level with the eyebrow and the bottom level with the base of the nose. The perfect ear also slopes backwards at the same angle as the nose.

In women, the average adult ear is 59mm tall and the average male ear 63mm tall. In boys, the ear length is 48mm at 6 months growing to 55mm at 5 years and 59mm at 10 years. The values are a little less for girls. The ear is thus almost fully-grown at 10 years and so can often look large in teenagers until the head reaches full size - we literally do grow into our ears. Thereafter, the ears remain much the same size until the age of 60 when they gradually enlarge, particularly the lower part of the ear and the lobes, and particularly in men. Large ears can run in families, but in certain people only one ear is too big, sometimes because the blood supply to one side is more plentiful, and so growth is greater on that side.

An individual’s ears are almost unique. The term “prominent” is normally used to mean ears which stick out, but the ears can also seem prominent because they are simply too large. Many sufferers develop mannerisms and hair styles to cover or compensate for their problem. Some won’t swim or go out in windy weather for fear that their ears will be revealed. Although surgery to pin back sticking-out ears is quite widely available, surgery to reduce the size of the ear is less commonplace.

A deformed ear may be apparent at birth or soon after, or may be acquired later in life through trauma, piercing, surgery or cancer, for example. In the first year or two of life, many ear deformities can be corrected by reshaping or moulding the ear cartilage using EarBuddies™, avoiding teasing and surgery later.