Swimmer’s ear (Otitis Externa) is an infection of the skin lining the ear canal. This is common in swimmers and can be either a bacterial or a fungal infection caused by warm water in the ear being a perfect breeding ground for the bacteria.
Symptoms of Swimmers Ear
Swimmers ear symptoms include ear ache, redness in the ear, itching and possible discharge from the ear. There may be excess ear wax and possible hearing loss. Pain is produced when pulling down on the ear lobe.
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 swimmers ear.
Other things can cause the condition, including damage to the ear canal (e.g. cuts or damage from cotton buds etc), chemicals such as hair spray getting into the ears and skin conditions such as Eczema.
Treatment of Swimmers Ear
- Early treatment is advised to get the best results and to avoid any further damage.
- Treatment usually involves gently cleaning the ear
- 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 used. 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.
- Use ear plugs when swimming to keep the ears dry.
- Dry the ears after swimming and bathing/showering with a hair dryer or clean, dry towel.
- Do not use cotton buds.
- Avoid chemical substances around the ears - use ear plugs or cotton wool balls to stop chemicals entering the ear.