Otitis externa (swimmer’s ear)

  • Inflammation of the outer ear canal
  • Symptoms may include ear pain, fullness, redness, itching and hearing loss
  • Caused by infection, trauma, excess moisture or allergic reaction
  • Cannot be spread from person to person
  • Affects males and females
  • Can occur at any age but most common in children
  • May be mild to severe
  • Not life threatening

GENERAL THERAPY

  • Rinse ear gently with bulb syringe and warm saline solution
  • Make sure any solution put in ear is body temperature
  • For ear pain, apply warn washcloths or heating pad
  • Homemade ear drops can help prevent swimmer’s ear after water exposure:
    • Make a 50:50 mixture of white vinegar and rubbing alcohol for use after swimming or exposure to water
    • Apply 3-4 drops in each ear canal after swimming
    • This helps dry the canal and maintain the acidic environment of the ear canal

 

FOR PAIN

  • Apply hot or cold packs to the area
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Distraction
  • Over-the-counter medicine (refer to manufacturer’s recommendations for dosage):
    • Acetaminophen
    • Ibuprofen

 

PRECAUTIONS AND AVOIDANCES

  • Avoid heating pad when lying in bed
  • Avoid using heating pad on a small child
  • Avoid using ear candles
  • Avoid swimming or scuba diving
  • Avoid flying
  • Avoid getting water in your ears
  • Avoid putting foreign objects in ears
  • Use caution when using ear plugs or headphones
  • Limit swimming in polluted water

 

SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IF:

  • If ear pain or itching gets worse or persists after 3 days
  • Any part of the ear becomes red, painful or swollen
  • Any drainage from ear that’s not earwax, or smells bad
  • A fever develops
  • You feel dizzy or lightheaded

Schedule an Appointment

If you are not feeling well or are uncertain about a healthcare condition, see a doctor. It could save your life.

More Conditions

Schedule an Appointment

If you are not feeling well or are uncertain about a healthcare condition, see a doctor. It could save your life.

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