What is swimmer’s ear?
Swimmer’s ear is also called otitis externa. It is called swimmer’s ear because it commonly affects swimmers.
It is a painful infection of the outer ear canal that usually occurs after water gets trapped in the ear within a few days of swimming. Swimmer’s ear is common among children but it can affect all ages.
What are the symptoms?
- Itchiness inside the ear
- Redness and swelling of the ear
- Pain when the infected ear is tugged or when pressure is placed on the ear
- Pus draining from the infected ear
- Decreased hearing
What causes swimmer’s ear?
A common source of infection is increased moisture trapped in the ear canal from swimming and other moist environments. Moisture when trapped in the ear canal makes for a perfect environment for bacteria to grow and cause infection.
Swimmer’s ear cannot be spread from one person to another.
Other factors that contribute to swimmer’s ear include excessive cleaning of the ear canal with cotton swabs, swimming in the polluted water, injury to ear or other skin conditions such as eczema or seborrhea.
- Keep the ears dry. Dry ears thoroughly with the dry towel after bathing or swimming.
- Use ear plugs when swimming.
- Dont swim in polluted water
- Turn head from side to side after getting out of water.
- Dont put objects in the ear such as pencils, hairpins, fingers, etc. as these may damage the thin layer of skin lining the ear canal.
- Dont use cotton swabs to remove ear wax. They may pack ear wax and dirt deeper into the ear canal.
How is it treated?
If you think you have swimmer’s ear, consult a doctor.
Treatment includes careful cleaning of the ear canal and use of antibiotic ear drops to inhibit bacterial or fungal growth and reduce inflammation.