Swimmer’s ear is also called otitis externa which is the inflammation of the ear canal due to bacterial or fungal infection. The warm water trapped inside the ear is a good breeding grounds for bacteria.
Children and teenagers are more susceptible to become affected by swimmer’s ear, they spend more time in water or swimming pools during vacations. People with weak immune system such as diabetes are prone to develop a serious form of ear infection called malignant otitis externa and needs immediate treatment.
Causes of swimmer’s ear
- Cleaning the ears using ear buds and other objects can damage the lining of the ear and removes the wax that protects the ear.
- Inserting devices into the ears such as hearing aids, ear plug and headphones.
- Chemicals such as hair gel, hair sprays, bleaching agents, shampoos and hair dyes can enter the ears and cause infection
- Other infections of the ear and allergies
- Itchiness inside the ear
- Severe pain and tenderness felt in the ear especially when moving the head or pulling on the earlobe.
- A foul-smelling and yellowish discharge coming out of the ear. The discharge dries up and forms a crust in the ear
- Temporary muffled hearing due to blockage of the ear canal
- The affected ears look red
- Swelling when the ear canal becomes obstructed
- Mild fever
- Avoid further exposure to water and other types of trauma to the ear.
- Take the prescribed over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen to lessen the pain and the inflammation.
- Pour 4-5 drops of hydrogen peroxide into the infected ear, let it settle for a few minutes and drain it out by tilting the head downwards.
- Apply hot compress on the affected ear. Soak a clean washcloth in hot water and place it against the ear to lessen the pain. Another alternative is placing a hot water on the area. wrap hot water bottle in a towel before placing to the area to prevent burns and worsen the condition.
- Pour a few drops of mineral oil into the ear before going for a swim to lessen the risk of bacterial growth in the ear canal.
- Take the prescribed oral antibiotic medications to lessen the infection and prevent from spreading.
- Wear ear plugs or shower caps when swimming or taking a shower to keep the ears dry and prevent development of infections such as swimmer’s ear.
- Dry thoroughly the ears after taking a shower and swimming. Use a clean towel or a hair dryer.
- Stop using cotton buds or other instruments for cleaning the ears to prevent injuries on the lining of the ears and result to swimmer’s ear.
- Use plugs or cotton wool balls to cover the ears when using chemicals to prevent it from entering the ear canal and cause an infection.
- Avoid placing objects in the ears that can damage the lining of the ear.