Otitis externa, also known as swimmer’s ear, is a common ear infection that affects the outer ear canal. It is usually caused by bacteria, but can also be caused by viruses or fungi. Otitis externa is most common in children and young adults, but it can occur at any age.
Symptoms of otitis externa
Symptoms of otitis externa can include:
- Ear pain
- Drainage from the ear
- Itching in the ear
- Redness and swelling of the ear canal
- Tenderness of the ear to the touch
- Difficulty hearing
Treatment for otitis externa
Treatment for otitis externa depends on the cause of the infection. Bacterial otitis externa is usually treated with antibiotic ear drops. Viral otitis externa may not require any treatment, but some people may be prescribed antiviral medications. Fungal otitis externa is treated with antifungal medications.
In addition to medication, people with otitis externa may also need to keep the ear canal clean and dry. This can be done by using a hair dryer to dry the ear canal after bathing or swimming, and by avoiding cotton swabs, which can push wax and debris further into the ear canal.
Preventing otitis externa
There are a number of things you can do to prevent otitis externa, including:
- Avoiding getting water in your ears. If you do get water in your ears, tilt your head to one side and gently pull on the earlobe to help drain the water.
- Wearing earplugs when swimming or using a hair dryer.
- Keeping your ears clean and dry.
- Avoiding cotton swabs.
If you think you may have otitis externa, it is important to see a doctor right away. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications and improve your chances of a full recovery.