If you spend a lot of time in the pool during the summer months, you may have encountered “swimmer’s ear” – a painful infection of the outer ear canal. More common in children than adults, otitis externa is a bacterial infection, easily contracted but easily treated if caught early. As with any ear infection, prompt medical treatment is necessary to avoid complications. Many cases of swimmers ear may be treated with over the counter medication, but a doctor consultation is always advisable.
1. Causes of Swimmer’s Ear
The most frequent cause of swimmer’s ear is water trapped in the outer ear canal, typically from repeated submersion into a pool or lake. Small amounts of water stay in the ear canal, which creates a warm, damp environment for bacteria to fester. Putting cotton swabs, fingers, or other small items into your ear can also cause otitis externa as it damages the inner skin of your ear canal. Small abrasions, coupled with the warm environment of the ear, can lead to the rapid growth of bacteria.