Swimmer’s ear (otitis externa) is a common type of ear infection that affects the outer ear area. It occurs when water remains in the ear for an extended period of time. The water trapped inside fosters the perfect environment for bacteria thrive. Teenagers and children are most often affected by this infection after daily activities such as swimming, bathing and showering.
- Avoid swimming in polluted water. Choose the place you swim wisely. A contaminated hot tub or lake is a breeding ground for bacteria. If this water remains in your ear too long, then swimmer’s ear can emerge.
- Do not clean your ears with cotton swabs. Aggressive wiping of the canal can leave cuts and scars. Small breaks in the skin are the ideal setting for bacteria to linger. Try using an ear syringe or cleaning system instead.
- Limit your hair products. When you use hairspray and dye, excess product can build up on your ear. It’s important to utilize a fair amount and wash your ear afterwards.
- Beware of electronic devices. Try not to use electronic devices that will cut your ear canal. Headphones are a prime example of this. These cuts make the best place for bacteria to settle.
- Manage other skin conditions. Problems like eczema can intensify your chances of getting infected. Taking the time to medicate these areas can make a huge difference.
- Wear earplugs while swimming. Ear plugs make it easier to keep the water out. There are many different homemade or custom ear plugs that can be used.
There are three stages to swimmer’s ear: mild, moderate and advanced. You can catch it in the early phases by looking out for symptoms. A sign of an infection is the itching of the ear. You should also check for redness inside the ear canal. The final symptom of an infection is a clear fluid draining out of the ear.
It is important to set up an evaluation, even if you are experiencing mild symptoms. The consequences of waiting too late can be life changing. Some of the worst effects include hearing loss, bone and cartilage damage, or recurring ear infections.
If you’ve got symptoms of swimmer’s ear, contact a professional for help. Schedule An Appointment with a Fayetteville Otolaryngology Physician here or call 910-470-5309.