Swimmers Ear

Swimmers Ear

Swimmer’s ear or otitis externa is an infection of the skin which lines the ear canal. This is common in swimmers and can be either a bacterial or a fungal infection.

Symptoms

Symptoms include ear ache, redness, itching and possible discharge from the ear. There may be excess wax and possible hearing loss. Pain is produced when pulling down on the ear lobe.

Causes

Swimmers ear is commonly found in those who swim regularly.  Water trapped in the ear causes the bacteria usually found there to multiply as it creates an ideal, warm, moist environment. Swimming in unclean water increases the risk of getting the condition.

Other things can cause the condition, including damage to the ear canal for example cuts or damage from cotton buds etc, chemicals such as hair spray getting into the ears and skin conditions such as eczema.

Treatment

Early treatment of otitis externa is advised to get the best results and to avoid any further damage. Treatment usually involves gently cleaning the ear and ear drops containing a mild acidic substance to kill the bacteria. Antibiotics may be prescribed by a Doctor for more severe cases. Antibiotic drops are usually used although oral antibiotics may also be prescribed if the infection has started to spread. Check ups will be required to ensure that treatment has been successful.

Prevention

Use plugs when swimming to keep the ears dry. Dry thoroughly after swimming and showering with a hair dryer or clean, dry towel. Do not use cotton buds and avoid chemical substances around the area. Use ear plugs or cotton wool balls to stop chemicals entering.

Related Articles

Glue Ear

Glue ear is a childhood condition which can cause some loss of  hearing. It affects the middle ear and there are usually no external symptoms.

Cauliflower Ear

Cauliflower ear is also known as hematoma auris. It is a deformity of the outer ear caused by repetitive friction or impact. It is common in contact sports that do not use head protection.

Ear Wax

Ear wax which is medically termed impacted cerumen is a build up of wax in the auditory canal. This can cause discomfort and affected hearing and is most common in children and older people.

Perforated Eardrum

A perforated or burst eardrum is a tear of the eardrum in the inner ear. This is uncomfortable but usually heals on its own within a few weeks. It may be caused by an impact, loud noise or infection.