Swimmer’s Ear (Otitis Externa)

Often swimmers will suffer from a swimmer’s ear. This is a type of otitis externa and it can be treated in a number of different ways. This article will cover the causes, symptoms, treatment, and possible complications.


Symptoms of a swimmer’s ear are caused by bacteria and fungi that get into the outer ear canal. This can cause pain and irritation. It may also lead to hearing loss.

People with a high risk for otitis externa include those who swim for long periods of time or use hair products. The water in the ear can trap bacteria, which then multiply. It’s best to take precautions and use shower caps to keep water out of the ear. You should also avoid inserting objects into the ear. This can cause damage to the sensitive skin in the ear canal.

If your ear becomes infected, you may develop a clear, pus-like discharge. The affected area may itch, and the skin in the ear may be peeling. The discharge may also be yellow or red. You should contact your healthcare provider right away if you notice any of these symptoms.

Your healthcare provider can diagnose swimmer’s ear by looking in your ear and checking for symptoms. He or she may use a light instrument called an otoscope to examine the ear. They will also ask about your medical history.

They will also examine both of your ears, and you may need to have x-rays taken of your skull. In severe cases, additional testing may be needed. They will give you medication to reduce the swelling in the ear and to treat the infection.

If the infection is left untreated, it can spread to your cranial nerves and bones in the ear. It can lead to serious complications, especially in older adults.

To treat the infection, you may need to see your healthcare provider for antibiotics. You may also need to use eardrops that contain steroids or antibiotics. These drops can be used for seven to 14 days.

Swimming is one of the main causes of otitis externa, and it can be prevented. By using shower caps, keeping your ears dry, and wearing earplugs, you can minimize the risk of developing this condition. If you have otitis externa, you should see your healthcare provider as soon as possible.


Whether you’re suffering from swimmer’s ear or other forms of external otitis, a visit to your doctor can help you get a proper diagnosis. Your healthcare provider may order lab tests to determine what’s causing the infection.

A swab of the ear canal may be taken to test for bacteria. If the swab is positive for infection, the doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics. If the swab is negative, your doctor may decide to refer you to a specialist.

If your ear canal is narrow, the chances of it becoming inflamed increase. This can make it difficult for earwax to drain and provide an ideal environment for the growth of bacteria.

The skin of your ear canal may become red, swollen, and itchy. You may also experience pain. Your doctor may prescribe an ear curette to remove debris from your ear. The doctor can also use a suction device to clear out your ear.

The most common cause of otitis externa is a bacterium, such as Staphylococcus aureus. Other causes include fungi, allergies, and skin conditions. Depending on the severity of the infection, your doctor may recommend topical antimicrobials or prolonged antibiotics.

If you have a weak immune system, you are at a higher risk of developing complications from an ear infection. Your doctor may consider blood glucose testing for severe cases.

If the infection is not treated quickly, it can spread to the underlying cartilage and bones. This can cause long-term damage to the skin, bone, and skull. Surgery is sometimes necessary to drain infected skull bones.

A swimmer’s ear is usually not serious if it is diagnosed and treated promptly. However, you should visit your doctor if your symptoms persist for more than a few days.

A complete health history can allow your doctor to diagnose the infection and identify any underlying conditions. A culture of your drainage will be taken to see which bacteria or fungi are causing the infection. Your physician can then plan the best treatment for you.

The best way to prevent otitis externa is to avoid getting water into your ears. You should also keep your ear canal clean and dry.


Among the most common causes of swimmer’s ear is water in the ear. If water gets trapped in the ear canal, it can promote the growth of bacteria. In turn, the infection can spread to the ear drum and other structures. It may also cause hearing loss.

Some symptoms of swimmer’s ear include a sore, red, or peeling ear skin. In addition, the ear canal may look swollen or erythematous. In some cases, a thick, waxy film of earwax may collect on the outside of the ear.

During an office visit, a doctor will examine the ear to determine if it is infected. If it is, a doctor will clean it. Occasionally, the ear may be drained with a suction device. A doctor can also take a swab of the ear to look for bacteria. If the swab is positive for bacteria, the doctor will prescribe an antibiotic to kill the bacteria.

The best way to prevent swimmer’s ear is to keep your ears dry. If you swim, use earplugs to prevent the water from entering your ear. This can help prevent bacterial growth that can lead to a swimmer’s ear. It’s also important to avoid putting objects into your ear, as this can damage the delicate skin in the ear canal.

If the ear is infected, it can be treated with an eardrop or an oral antibiotic. These medicines can kill Pseudomonas bacteria, which are the most common causes of otitis externa. If the ear is not infected, you can treat it at home. You can make a reusable ear compress out of rubbing alcohol and white vinegar. You should wear the compress at least once a day for at least 7 days to keep the ear clean. You should also wash the compress before using it.

If the ear is infected, the doctor may recommend a specialized treatment that includes surgery or prolonged antibiotics. If the infection is severe, it may spread to the bone. If the infection has not yet been identified, the doctor can also recommend over-the-counter pain medication. If the infection is deep, the doctor may perform a CT scan.


Several different conditions can lead to a swimmer’s ear. Among these are allergies, fungi, and bacteria. These infections can cause symptoms that include itching, drainage, and pain.

There are two primary types of swimmer’s ear: acute and chronic. Acute otitis externa is a common condition that can be very painful. In many cases, this infection is caused by a bacterium that enters the ear canal through a scratch. It usually clears up within two months.

Chronic otitis externa is a more serious illness that is often caused by bacteria. It can be very painful and can interfere with daily activities. It can also spread to surrounding tissues. Some cases can last for months. It is important to treat this type of ear infection as soon as possible to prevent complications.

Fortunately, most cases of swimmer’s ear are not very complicated. Typical treatment involves using antibiotic ear drops. These may contain antibiotics, antifungal agents, and topical powders. If this does not relieve your symptoms, your doctor may prescribe more powerful medications.

If your ear infection does not clear up, your ear doctor may recommend that you see an ear specialist. This person will be able to tell whether the infection originated in the middle ear or the external ear canal. They will also remove debris from the ear canal. They may need to drain pus from abscesses.

If the infection is recurrent or resistant to treatment, your ear doctor may recommend that you undergo ear canal cultures. This will help determine if the infection has spread to the bones in your ear. This is especially dangerous for immunocompromised patients. It can result in a deaf ear.

In addition to these treatments, your ear doctor may prescribe medication to reduce swelling in the ear. Your ear may also be cleaned with an ear curette.

You should also avoid putting things into your ear. This could damage the thin layer of skin that lines the ear canal. You should also keep your ears dry to prevent recurrent infections.

If you have swimmer’s ear, your ear doctor can recommend treatment. This can be as simple as taking an antibiotic, or as complicated as removing debris from the ear canal.

Health Sources:

Health A to Z. (n.d.). HSE.ie. https://www2.hse.ie/az/

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/

Directory Health Topics. (n.d.). https://www.healthline.com/directory/topics

Health A-Z. (2022, April 26). Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/health-a-z-4014770

Harvard Health. (2015, November 17). Health A to Z. https://www.health.harvard.edu/health-a-to-z

Health Conditions A-Z Sitemap. (n.d.). EverydayHealth.com. https://www.everydayhealth.com/conditions/

Susan Silverman

Susan Silverman

Susan Silverman is a Healthy Home Remedies Writer for Home Remedy Lifestyle! With over 10 years of experience, I've helped countless people find natural solutions to their health problems. At Home Remedy Lifestyle, we believe that knowledge is power. I am dedicated to providing our readers with trustworthy, evidence-based information about home remedies and natural medical treatments. I love finding creative ways to live a healthy and holistic lifestyle on a budget! It is my hope to empower our readers to take control of their health!

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