Swimmer’s Ear Infection (External Otitis) Symptoms, Pain Remedies, Treatment, and Prevention

Swimmer’s Ear (Outer Ear Infection)

  • Swimmer’s ear, or external otitis, is typically a bacterial infection of the skin of the outer ear canal. In contrast to a middle ear infection, swimmer’s ear is an infection of the outer ear.
  • Swimmer’s ear can occur in both acute and chronic forms.
  • Excessive water exposure and water trapped in the ear is a risk factor for developing swimmer’s ear. Putting cotton swabs in the ear canal also may cause an external ear infection.
  • Early symptoms of an outer ear infection include
    • itchy ears,
    • a feeling of fullness,
    • swelling of the ear canal,
    • drainage, and
    • pain.
  • Home remedies to relieve ear pain, treat other signs and symptoms, and cure an outer ear infection include:
    • Keep the ears dry at all times. .
    • Use earplugs or a cotton ball with Vaseline on the outside to plug the ears when showering or swimming.
    • Don’t scratch the inside of the ear because this may make the condition worse.
  • Frequently, outer ear infections are treated with antibiotic eardrops and avoiding water activities until the infection has been cured.
  • If the ear is very swollen, a wick may need to be inserted in the ear canal to allow penetration of the eardrops.
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions for use of any eardrops or medications
  • There are things that you can do to prevent swimmer’s ear or an outer ear infection.
    • Take care of your ears
    • Don’t scratch the inside of the ears
    • Keep the ears free of wax
    • Don’t put objects (even cotton balls or swabs) in the ear.
    • Don’t try to remove an object that is stuck the ear. Call your doctor.
    • Home made ear drops using rubbing alcohol and vinegar can be used after swimming to remove water from the ears and help prevent swimmer’s ear.

What is “swimmer’s ear” infection in children and adults?

External otitis or “swimmer’s ear” in children and adults is an infection of the skin covering the outer ear and ear canal. The ear infection can be short-term (acute) or chronic, which lasts for a long period.

What are the signs and symptoms of swimmer’s ear in children and adults?

  • The first symptom of infection is the ear feeling full, and it may itch.
  • The ear canal swells, and fluid or puss may come from the ear.
  • Swimmer’s ear is very painful, especially with movement of the outside portion of the ear.
  • The ear canal can swell shut, and the side of the face can become swell.
  • A sense of fullness in the ear
  • The lymph nodes of the neck may enlarge, making it difficult or painful to open the jaw.
  • People with swimmer’s ear may experience some temporary hearing loss in the infected ear.

Other signs and symptoms of an outer ear infection in children include severe pain when the ear is moved, touched, or itched, and irritability. Outer ear infections in children also can be causes by middle ear infections (otitis media) or objects placed in the ear.

What causes acute swimmer’s ear infection in children an adults?

Acute external otitis (acute swimmer’s ear) is a common bacterial infection caused by StreptococcusStaphylococcus, or Pseudomonas bacteria. Usually, bacterial ear infections in children and adults are transmitted through excessive water exposure from swimming, diving, surfing, kayaking, or other water sports. When water collects in the ear canal (frequently trapped by wax), the skin can become soggy, which is an incubator for bacteria to collect and grow. Cuts or abrasions in the lining of the ear canal (for example, from cotton swab injuries) also can expose the ear canal to a bacterial infection.

Why do ears itch?

Itchy ears can drive a person crazy. It can be the first sign of an infection, but if the problem is chronic, it is more likely caused by a chronic dermatitis of the ear canal. Seborrheic dermatitis and eczema can both affect the ear canal. There is really no cure for this problem, but it can be made tolerable with the use of steroid drops and creams. People with these problems are more prone to acute infections as well. Use of ear plugs, alcohol drops, and non-instrumentation of the ear is the best prevention for infection. Other treatments for allergies may also help itchy ears. Read More

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