Otitis Externa (Swimmer’s Ear)
Otitis externa (swimmer’s ear), is an infection commonly caused by continuous exposure of the ear to water. Although swimmers and young children are most susceptible to getting it, anyone can contract it.
Symptoms of otitis externa can include:
- Pus leaking out of the ear
- Severe pain in the ear
- Temporary hearing loss
- Itching within the ear
It is important to seek out medical help when experiencing any of these symptoms as otitis externa when left untreated, can result in growths, tears in the eardrum, or even a contraction of the ear canal.
Bacteria within the ear is the most common cause of otitis externa, although sometimes it can originate from a fungal infection.
- allergies (i.e., certain medication and shampoo)
- seborrhoeic dermatitis
- irritation (e.g., headphones or earplugs)
Exposure to water and itching of the skin within the ear can provide an environment that facilitates further bacteria growth, speeding up the progression of otitis externa.
- Swimmers can stop the onset of otitis externa by wearing a swimming cap and earplugs to shield the ears and protect them from developing bacteria. Even whilst having a shower it is important not to get water or shampoo into your ears in order to prevent any damage to sensitive internal skin and the development of otitis externa.
- It is also of great importance not to insert anything into your ears. The insertion of fingers or cotton buds into the ear canal can increase the likelihood of developing otitis externa.
Although not a serious condition, otitis externa can often result in pain and discomfort. However, it is often easily treated with a course of antibiotics.
- antifungal ear drops – to treat fungal infection
- steroid ear drops – to reduce swelling
- antibiotic ear drops – to treat a bacterial infection
- antibiotic tablets – to treat a more severe bacterial infection
The sooner the treatment begins, the sooner symptoms will clear up and the need for stronger antibiotics and further damage to the hearing may be avoided.