Otitis Externa (Swimmer’s Ear)

June 14, 2017 |

Boy in a pool with swimmers ear

It’s that time of year again when we are all hitting the beach or lounging by the pool. It’s also the time of year when we see a lot of patients for swimmer’s ear. So what is swimmer’s ear and how can you prevent it this summer? Stay tuned and find out….

Swimmer’s ear is defined as a bacterial infection of the skin of the outer ear. This is different from a typical ear infection because it affects the outer ear. Swimmer’s ear is common in kids who spend a lot

of time in thewater. Too much moisture in the ear can irritate and break down the skin in the canal, letting bacteria or fungi penetrate. It happens most often in summertime, when swimming is common.

So what are the symptoms of swimmer’s ear?

  • a feeling of fullness,
  • swelling of the ear canal,
  • drainage, and
  • pain
  • itchy ears

And what about the causes?

  • Excessive water exposure and water trapped in the ear is a risk factor for developing swimmer’s ear.
  • Frequent instrumentation (usually with cotton swabs) of the ear canal is another potential cause of external ear infections
  • Ok…. so how do we treat it?
  • Use ear plugs 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.
  • Avoid placing objects in the ear that can scratch the skin of the ear canal and lead to infection

Now for the good news!

Pain from swimmer’s ear usually goes away within 24 hours after medical treatment begins, and the infection typically clears up within a week. To help prevent swimmer’s ear, you can stop by our office to be fitted for ear plugs. We would love to help you, just give us a call (616) 994-2770.


Make an Appointment by calling 616-994-2770

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