How to Treat Swimmer’s Ear

Dr. Angela Seabright
Brittany Allen

| 2 min read

Swimmer's ear
Ear infections can be extremely painful and uncomfortable.
They come in many different forms, but a common type of infection in the ear is otitis externa, also known as swimmer’s ear. This specific type of infection involves water getting trapped in and around the outer ear canal that connects to the eardrum. This can result in a lot of pain, swelling, itching and even hearing loss.
Although it’s referred to as swimmer’s ear, the condition isn’t just caused by days spent at the pool. Other activities such as taking a shower or bath, cleaning your ears incorrectly with cotton swabs and much more can lead to the infection.
Swimmer’s ear is a very common infection, with nearly 2.4 million people seeking treatment every year. Initial symptoms include itching, swelling and redness which could progress to the area becoming painful and inflamed.
Swimmer’s ear is more common in children, due to their narrow ear canals. The condition is not contagious, but should be treated right away if suspected.
If your symptoms don’t go away after a few days, see a doctor as soon as possible to avoid a problem. Due to having buildup in your ear, it might be necessary to get your ear flushed of any debris with the proper materials at a doctor’s office.
To prevent a future case of swimmer’s ear, there are a few things to keep in mind. Consider purchasing water blocking earplugs when involved in water activities. Also, try to avoid vigorous ear cleaning with cotton swabs to limit improper use. Try cleaning your ear with a wash cloth instead to prevent a backup.
Ear infections are far from fun and can be avoided if you are careful with your everyday activities.
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Photo credit: Kevin Gale

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