ABC Medical Center > Swimmer’s ear

What is Swimmer’s ear?

19:00 - 30 November , 2023


This is a bacterial infection of the outer ear and ear canal that can cause inflammation or irritation.

The external ear canals have natural defenses that help keep them clean and prevent infections, but excess water left in the ear after swimming or exposure to contaminated water can encourage the growth of bacteria.

Likewise, the use of cotton swabs or other devices (earphones or earplugs) can alter the thin layer of skin that covers the ear canal.

Signs and symptoms Swimmer’s ear

The symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe, usually manifesting the following:

  • Itching in the ear canal.
  • Pain that may radiate to the face, neck, or side of the head.
  • High fever.
  • Redness or inflammation of the outer ear.
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
  • Clogged ear canal.
  • Transparent, odorless liquid oozing.

Swimmer’s ear or otitis externa, as it is also known, does not cause complications if treated promptly, but if not treated, the infection can evolve and cause complications, such as:

  • Infectious cellulitis.
  • Osteomyelitis.
  • Chronic external otitis.
  • Temporary hearing loss.

Diagnosis and treatment Swimmer’s ear

After analyzing your symptoms and medical history, your doctor will perform a physical examination of the ear canal and eardrum. If necessary, they will request a sample of ear fluid to look for bacteria, fungi, or viruses.

The goal of treatment is to stop the infection and relieve symptoms by:

  • Cleaning the ear canal with drops and suction instruments to remove earwax, secretion, skin flakes, and other debris.
  • Medications to treat the infection:
    • Antibiotics.
    • Painkillers.
    • Corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, burning, or itching.
    • Acid solution to restore the normal antibacterial environment of the ear.
    • Antifungal medications to fight fungal infections.

If the ear canal is completely blocked by inflammation or excessive discharge, the doctor will be able to drain it and help the medication enter the ear canal.

It is important to keep your ears dry during treatment, so avoid swimming, and using earplugs or earphones. You should also protect your ear when you shower so water does not enter the ear canal.

In ABC Medical Center Internal Medicine Department, we provide you with health care services with the highest quality and safety, from prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and follow-up of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological conditions, both chronic-degenerative and acute, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.



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