General Illness Information
Otitis Externa, Swimmer’s ear
Medical Term: Otitis Externa.
Description: Inflammation or infection of the external ear canal that extends from the eardrum to the outside.
- Bacterial or fungal infection of the delicate skin lining of the ear canal.
- Injury to the ear canal.
Prevention: Avoid preventable risk factors.
Signs & Symptoms
- Discharge of pus from the ear.
- Ear pain that worsens when the earlobe is pulled or pressed.
- Itching in the ear.
- Slight fever (sometimes).
- Swimming in polluted water.
- Excessive swimming in chlorinated pools. Chlorinated water dries out the ear canal, allowing bacteria or fungi to enter the skin.
- Immersing ears in hot tub with infected water.
- Excess moisture from any cause.
- Irritation from swabs; metal objects, such as bobby pins; or ear plugs, especially if they are left in a long time
- Inadequate production of protective ear wax (cerumen).
- Previous ear infections.
- Skin allergies.
- Diabetes mellitus or other disorders that predispose to infection.
- Use of hair spray or hair dye that may enter the ear canal.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Diagnosis made by examination of the ear. Fluid from the ear may occasionally be cultured.
- Medication and supportive care to relieve pain.
- Gentle cleaning of the ear canal.
- Warm compress over the ear may help relieve the pain.
- Keep the infected ear dry. Wear ear plugs or shower cap for showering.
- Ear drops that contain antibiotics and cortisone drugs to control inflammation and fight infection
- Topical creams or ointments for fungal or bacterial infections
- Oral antibiotics for severe infection.
- Oral analgesics such as acetaminophen may be used for pain.
As tolerated. No dietary restriction.
- Severe ear pain.
- Cellulitis-infection may spread to deeper tissues.
- Chronic infection.
Excellent with proper treatment.