The beauty of the ear is, considering the importance of the organ, too little regarded. No person with ugly ears can be truly called good-looking. It is usually supposed that a woman needs the adornment of pretty ears more than does a man, but the fact is that a woman often hides her ears with her hair, whereas on the closely cropped head of a man these organs attract a notice not always desired.
The ear indicates character to the physiognomist, and the state of the general health to the physician. A pinky white and well-shaped ear never yet adorned the head of a vulgar person, nor has any person of refinement been afflicted with the large-lobed, ill-shaped, and imperfectly attached ear which seems the special possession of a grossly minded individual. Between these two extremes there are, of course, many intermediate types, forming character studies for those interested in the culture of the mind.
The beauty culturist. can do much to improve ugly ears, provided that the work is begun in childhood, and carried on systematically. Many grown-up people would have been spared the mortification caused by outstanding ears had a cap or bandage been placed over them regularly at night when the cartilage was pliable and subject to treatment. But even in later life something can be done, the easiest appliance being a crochetted cap, which can be readily placed in position, and will keep there.
The colour of the ear, as indicated above, may best be modified by medical treatment of the blood, but gentle massage with some emollient cream will ameliorate both a parchment-like or purple-red hue to something more akin to shell-pink, the ideal colour.
Many ears are irremediably spoiled by passing fashion in earrings, for a long, heavy ornament drags down the lobe and unduly enlarges it. This is the least injurious effect produced, for eczema, abscesses, and ugly scars when the lobe is broken are not unknown to the wearers of earrings.
It is surprising to note how the toilet of the ear is neglected, even by fastidious people. The ear seems peculiarly liable to secrete dust from the atmosphere, and to this there is added the daily secretion of wax. If this last is left for a short time it hardens, and causes, by pressing against the drum of the ear, those " singing " noises so familiar. To remedy this a warm bath of soapy water is needed, and, if partial deafness has been induced by neglect, to clear the wax, Steaming the ear for ten minutes over a jug of hot water will soften the wax which then may be removed by washing. Be careful to keep out of a draught after this treatment, or the last state of deafness may be worse than the first.
Much damage has been done by the use of syringes, hairpins, and instruments consisting of a bit of sponge attached to a bone handle. The inner ear should never be touched, and often water is syringed into it with too much force. " In using the syringe, the auricle must be drawn upwards and backwards, in order to permit the liquid to enter freely and flow from the meatus; the nozzle of the syringe must not be placed within the canal of the ear, but at a short distance from the orifice, or just resting upon one side."
It is not generally realised how much discomfort, and even disease, is primarily due to insufficient care of the ears. Sometimes wax in the ear will cause a cough that is attributed to anything else but the right source. Disease of the ear, too, is induced by a neglect of the simple operation of thoroughly drying the ears at the toilet. But with the intention of doing this thoroughly, never screw up and insert therein a plug of towel, for to do so may induce deafness by forcing back the wax.
Many an adult has suffered because the ears were boxed in childhood's days. The air is forced back against the drum-head, and in bad cases has ruptured it.
Few like to confess they are deaf, and people will often undergo all sorts of inconveniences rather than own to having missed hearing something they were meant to have heard. In cases of slight deafness, a fan is of use, and the deaf person can guide the sound without appearing to do so. Should the defect become serious there are now devices which fit close to the ear and are less obtrusive than the ear-trumpet.
Some cases of deafness are the result of some malady which can only be treated by a doctor, but. there are other avoidable and little known causes of deafness. Constipation is one; and an abuse of perfumes and smelling salts is another.