||External Otitis / External Ear Infection
*Excessive water exposure (diving a lot, playing in the water)
*Frequent instrumentation of the ear canal especially with cotton tips
*Chloride in pool water which is allergic and irritant to our ear
*Hair spray, hair dyes, some shampoos and other chemicals,
are important causative factors.
Itchy ears, a feeling of fill ness, swelling, drainage and pain are early symptoms
Medical treatment and avoidance of water are frequently necessary.
Proper ear care can avoid most infections.
What is a “swimmers ear” or external otitis?
External otitis or a “swimmers ear” is an infection of the skin covering the outer ear canal. Acute external otitis is commonly a bacterial infection. “Swimmers ear” is usually caused by excessive water exposure. When water pools in the ear canal (frequently trapped by WAX). The skin will become soggy and serve as an inviting culture media for bacteria. The first sign of infection is that the ear will feel full and it may itch. Next the ear canal will swell and ear drainage will follow. At this stage the ear will be very painful, especially with movement of the outside portion of the ear. The ear canal can swell shut and the side of the face can become swollen. Regardless of the cause, moisture and irritation will prolong the course of the problem. For this reason the ear should be kept dry. While showering or swimming use an ear plug (one that is designed to keep water out) or use cotton with Vaseline on the outside. Scratching the inside of the ear using cotton tips should be avoided. This will only aggravate the irritated skin, and in most situations will make the conditions worse. Itchy ears can drive a person crazy. It can be the first sign of an infection. In fact scratching the inside of the ear will just make it scratch more.
How can it be prevented?
Decrease exposure to water. If you are prone to infections it is advisable that you use an ear plug when you bathe or swim.
Do not use instrument or cotton tips in your ears.
Try to keep the ear free from VAX. This may require maintenance type visits to your doctor to have your ears cleaned. If you already have an ear infection, or if you have a hole in your ear drum, or if you have ever had ear surgery or ear drum tubes, first contact your doctor prior swimming.
A preventative ear drop solution can be easily and cheaply made by mixing equal parts of alcohol and Vinegar. After swimming 1 or 2 drops of this mixture in each ear will help to dry the ear and prevent infection. If you already have infection or severe pain, please contact Medicus® doctor.