Swimmer’s ear: Causes, symptoms, treatment and essential prevention tips | Health

Pain in the ears is often owing to an ear infection where if the infection is in the outer ear or ear canal, it is known as otitis externa or swimmer’s ear but are you aware that swimmer’s ear is not similar to the middle ear infections, known as otitis media, commonly seen among children? Moreover, a swimmer’s ear is rarely fatal but can become serious if it spreads to other areas around the ear, such as the skull and can be treated with the help of an expert.

Swimmer’s ear: Causes, symptoms, treatment and essential prevention tips (Image by azerbaijan_stockers on Freepik)


In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Rinky Kapoor, Consultant Dermatologist, Cosmetic Dermatologist and Dermato-Surgeon at The Esthetic Clinics, explained, “This condition can strike anyone irrespective of his/her age group. It is not only seen in people who swim but even in children and young adults. This infection happens when water or moisture is trapped in the ear canal while taking showers or baths, washing hair, or being in a moist or humid environment. This infection can be seen when one does excessive ear cleaning. If you have skin conditions that affect the ear canal, such as eczema or psoriasis, you may be more prone to developing a swimmer’s ear at any point of time in your life. Shockingly, even wearing earplugs, earbuds, or hearing aids can cause this infection.”

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The symptoms:

Dr Rinky Kapoor shared, “Swimmer’s ear or otitis externa, can lead to uncomfortable symptoms and steal your peace of mind. The signs and symptoms of a swimmer’s ear are ear pain that worsens when the earlobe is pulled or pushed, itching inside the ear canal, feeling of fullness or pressure, fluid or pus from the ear, and diminishing hearing ability due to inflammation and swelling. Other symptoms of this infection are also redness and swelling of the outer ear, mainly around the opening of the ear canal. It is important to seek timely treatment if you experience severe pain, persistent drainage from the ear, fever, or if your symptoms do not improve. Early detection and proper treatment are key to dealing with this unpleasant infection.”

The treatment:

Dr Rinky Kapoor suggested, “Opt for medication suggested by the doctor to get that much-needed relief from discomfort while waiting for prescribed medications to take effect. Avoid swimming in chlorinated pools or contaminated water can help prevent the recurrence of the infection. One will also have to take the below-mentioned precautionary measures to keep the swimmer’s ear at bay.”

The prevention:

Dr Rinky Kapoor advised, “Make sure your ears are dry after swimming. Keeping them wet can raise the risk of this infection. Using a towel to allow water to drain out can help prevent moisture buildup and infection. Try to wear earplugs while swimming to protect your ears from water entering the ear canal and causing pain and further problems. Use cotton swabs to clean inside your ears without any further damage and pain. By maintaining good ear hygiene and avoiding fidgeting of the inner ear, you can lower your chances of suffering from this infection.”

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