Swimmer's Ear

General Information

Swimmer’s ear is caused by inflammation in the external ear canal. It is usually caused by a bacterial or fungal infection that results when moisture is retained in the ear canal. Because the ear canal has little or no surrounding fat and is close to cartilage and bone, any swelling that occurs with the inflammation will cause pain in the ear. There may also be itching in the ear canal and if the swelling is sufficient to cause the canal to go shut, there will be hearing loss as well.

Another cause of otitis externa may be trauma to the ear canal. Because the skin layer is thin and backed by bone or cartilage, it is easily injured if one uses undue force or a sharp object when attempting to remove ear wax.

Important Points in Management
Generally your physician will treat swimmer’s ear by removal of any obstruction and the application of antibacterial agents or antibiotics directly into the ear canal. Removal of obstructions from the ear canal can be a delicate process and may require referral to an ear, nose, and throat specialist.

During the period of treatment the ear canal must be kept dry. With severe infections oral or injected antibiotics may be required. If the canal is swollen, the doctor may have to place a wick in the canal to promote drainage and permit medicines to get into the canal.

Call Our Office If ...

  • You develop an itchy ear canal or a painful ear.