02019-06-27 | Health, Ottmar | 17 comments

It seems that I am allergic to Apple plastic. To be more specific, my ears get infected from Apple earbuds. And that’s too bad because I find that Apple EarPods, AirPods, and the new PowerbeatsPro have really decent microphones, certainly much better than any other headset I have tried.

I first discovered my affliction in 2017 and in the fall of that year I had to go to different doctors several times before I was able to figure it out. It got so bad, at one point, that it was super painful to wear my IEMs during soundcheck and concert.

That I spend quite a while on the phone each day may have something to do with it, but it’s certainly strange that my ears are only affected by Apple products. It has to be the plastic, I figure. It also has nothing to do with Bluetooth, because the wired EarPods make a mess of my ears as well, and a Bluetooth headset by a different brand does not bother me.

I hoped the rubber tips of the new Powerbeats Pro would mean that my ears would like them. I wore them for a couple of hours the first day I had them… and they affected my ears badly. It must be that the plastic touches my outer ear… it’s the plastic, damn it. Has to be. I gave away the Powerbeats Pro and the new owner LOVES them. Of course, because they sound pretty good, Bluetooth works flawlessly, and the mic is great!

I wear my IEMs on tour around 2-3 hours per day but they must be made from a different kind of plastic because I have never had a problem. I also often wear Shure 535s for hours without a problem.

I have, so far, only found one other person that is affected by Apple earbuds, and couldn’t find anything relevant on the internet. (sigh)


  1. Jane Katz

    I really liked Dr. Thomas Thomason at Southwest Ear, Nose, and Throat. They have an allergy clinic. Of course, I don’t have such a strange problem.

  2. Jane Katz

    Southwest ENT is Santa Fe!

  3. ottmar

    Yes, I know that place well. :-)
    It is now part of Christus Health and many of the doctors you might be familiar with have left.
    In any case I have been there and elsewhere…

  4. Jane Katz

    Oh, I feel for you. Your ears are so precious!

  5. Cesco Derendinger

    I found some articles and forum posts about plastic and allergic ear reactions. It seems like this is not a specific apple problem though. It is strange how people show allergic reactions to the different chemical compositions of the plastic used by the manufacturers.

    I have also found several press releases describing the Apple Smartwatch as a pro-allergic. Here the links, unfortunately written in German.,86996.html

    Methacrylat seems like to be that real bad boy here, and apple use it in their products…

  6. ottmar

    That’s a lot of great info. Thanks. The funny thing is that the watch doesn’t bother me at all. But perhaps if I lay my ear on it it will… :-)

  7. Lester

    THIS IS HAPPENING TO ME TOO. I’ve used all apple products for almost 10 years and wore the original Aiprods for over a year with no problems at all and I recently upgraded to the Airpod Pros at the end of October. I wore them for a couple of weeks no problem, then began to develop pretty serious–what seemed to be–bilateral otitis media caused by some kind of bacteria or fungus, that I assumed got on them when I dropped them on the ground at work. The symptoms would present after wearing them for about 4 hours and included 7-8/10 pain in both ears, inflammation, itchiness, significant swelling, as well as erythema/itchiness outside my ear where the tip of the airpod arm touches my skin, all of which is followed by severe crusting that would occlude my entire ear canal for over a week. Antibiotics given by my doctor did not seem to do much of anything but the irritation and crusting would completely subside after about a week and a half to two weeks after not wearing the Airpod pros. I have tested the airpod Pros in one ear at a time and each time the reaction would occur in only the ear I place the Airpod; and I should note that I disinfected the airpods multiple times before testing them again just to be sure it was not some infectious agent and even tried this using a completely different set of Airpod Pros. I have also tested other earbuds and have had no reaction to I am now thinking I developed an allergy to something specifically in the Airpods whether its the EMF, something in the plastic or if I have a something going on with my immune system and not really sure where to go from here.

    • Lester

      Otitis externa**

    • ottmar

      Lester, check out Methacrylat – it’s apparently used in the manufacture of some Apple products. AirPods, Beats Pro… none of those work for me. I didn’t buy the AirPods Pro because I was afraid the same issue would occur. I bought the new Bose NC700 headphones. Bulky, but they work for me. I use them for listening and for making calls.

  8. B.McG

    I too have the same problem with the Powerbeats Pro. Tried several test. Disinfecting them, trying them without the in ear tips (horrible sound but tried as a test), shorter wear periods… all have the same problem. The regular plastic wired ear pods (that come with the phone) have no problems…. There are several Reditt threads with lots of people and the same problems.

    • ottmar

      I wonder whether you can wear the wired EarPods because they don’t fit as tightly? They would have a lot less contact with your ears than the PowerBeats Pro.

  9. Chris

    I have had the same issue with Beats Powerbeats Pro. I have gone through the refund process with Apple and am awaiting a check. In the meantime I purchased the newer Beats Solo Pro. After about 10 hours of using the new headphones I am sad to report I am having the same issue. It is strange as the material contacting my ears is different than the powerbeats plastic. It is a foam. Is it possible the foam has the same chemicall? Or are the plastic arms of the headphones 2cm from my ear causing this? Apple will not even speak about the issue. So frustrating.

  10. Daniel

    I have had problem with Powerbeats pro too. It hurts my ears so bad

  11. Keith Saylor

    I am experiencing the same issues I believe I developed a allergic reaction after a month of use the cleaned them with alchohol wipes and let my ears heal and after 1hour I had the same reaction.
    I then tried a lotion on my ear after they healed and that didn’t work either.
    This is the only allergic reaction I have to anything

  12. Terry Holland

    I`m having the same problems with the Powerbeats Pro also. They have both of my ears infected on the out and inside of my ears. I never had any problems with any other ear device, until I purchased these. Is there any one out there that can point me to the right Legal assistance in this matter.

  13. Mark

    I bought my wife the new airpods pro and she is having the same issues, ears are leaky, red, swollen, crusty, etc. after a week it clears up. If she has them in for an hour it’s right back the same again. we changed the tips , it didn’t make any difference. she hasn’t tried them with the silicone hook covers that come with the foam ear tips, that may work if it’s the plastic contact.


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