External otitis or “swimmer’s ear” is an infection of the skin covering the outer ear and ear canal.

What causes swimmer’s ear infection?

Acute external otitis is commonly a bacterial infection caused by StreptococcusStaphylococcus, or Pseudomonas types of bacteria. Swimmer’s ear infection usually is caused by excessive water exposure from swimming, diving, surfing, kayaking, or other water sports. When water collects in the ear canal (frequently trapped by wax), the skin can become soggy and serve as an inviting area for bacteria to grow.

Cuts or abrasions in the lining of the ear canal (for example, from cotton swab injury) also can predispose to bacterial infection of the ear canal. 

Swimmer’s ear definition and facts

  • In contrast to a middle ear infection, swimmer’s ear is an infection of the outer ear.
  • Swimmer’s ear can occur in both acute and chronic forms.
  • Excessive water exposure and water trapped in the ear is a risk factor for developing swimmer’s ear.
  • Frequent instrumentation (usually with cotton swabs) of the ear canal is another potential cause of external ear infection.
  • Early symptoms include
    • itchy ears,
    • a feeling of “fullness” in the ear
    • swelling of the ear canal and ears when showering or swimming.

How to treat Swimmer’s Ear

Using Swim-eze after swimming to remove water from the ears can help to prevent swimmer’s ear as it instantly removes trapped water in the ear with 4-5 drops.

Although tempting, try not to scratch the inside of the ear because this may make the condition worse.

Antibiotic ear drops and avoidance of water in the ear are frequently necessary for treatment. If the ear is very swollen, a wick may need to be inserted in the ear canal to allow penetration of the ear drops.

Follow your doctor’s instructions for use of any ear drops or medications.

Proper ear care can avoid most infections and preventative measures such as ear plugs when swimming can help.

Swim-eze should not be used with in situ hearing aids, grommets or perforated ear drums. If any of these conditions apply to you, always check with a healthcare professional for advice on how to treat swimmer’s ear.