Swimmer’s ear (otitis externa) is an infection in the outer ear canal, which runs from the eardrum in the inner ear to the outside of one’s ear. It gets its name because it is commonly caused by water that remains in the ear canal after swimming or bathing. That moisture can create an environment conducive for bacterial growth.
Causes of Swimmer’s Ear
A non-swimming cause of swimmer’s ear can be putting cotton swabs or other objects in the ear canal. This can damage the thin layer of skin lining the ear canal, leaving it susceptible to developing an infection.
Symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear
Symptoms of swimmer’s ear can range from mild to severe. The earliest signs are usually itching and redness inside the ear canal. Discomfort/ pain in the ear and drainage of fluid/ pus usually mean the infection is worsening. Pain radiating to other parts of the head, complete blockage of the ear canal, swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, and fever mark advanced progression of swimmer’s ear and should be evaluated by a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
Early treatment by a medical provider can prevent worsening of the condition and avoid complications. The provider will check the patient’s ear canal with an otoscope to determine if infection is present. Any debris present in the canal may be removed. Antibiotic ear drops and/or steroid ear drops may be prescribed to eliminate the infection.
Urgent Care Network of Omaha Clinics in Omaha and Bellevue, NE
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