Otitis externa, otherwise known as swimmer’s ear, is a condition that causes inflammation of the external ear canal, the tube between your outer ear and your eardrum. It is often referred to as swimmers ear as a common cause of the condition is water remaining in the ear canal after swimming. With treatment, any symptoms should clear up within a few days, however, in some severe cases, it may persist for several months or longer, despite normally only affecting one ear at any given time.
Some common symptoms of otitis externa include:
Otitis externa can be attributed to a wide range of causes, as well as some triggers that might make you more susceptible to the condition. Possible triggers can include:
Common causes of otitis externa can include:
Otitis externa can usually be remedied with a simple course of ear drops, as prescribed by your local GP. If your symptoms linger or your case has been particularly severe, you may be referred to a specialist who may undertake micro-suction or dry swabs to remove ear wax and other debris to make your drops more effective. Severe cases may require an earwig, a plug made from soft cotton gauze that helps insert medication into your ear.
While you take your medication, it is important to take certain steps at home to help aid your recovery. Avoid getting your ear wet by wearing a shower cap when you bathe and gently remove any discharge by gently swabbing around your ear rather than in it. Removing any hearing aids, ear plugs and earrings will also help prevent the spread of bacteria.
If you are experiencing symptoms of otitis externa, it is important to make an appointment with your local doctor.
To learn more about other ear infections, visit our otitis media, labyrinthitis or ear infection pages.