Swimmer’s ear is inflammation, irritation or infection of the outer ear and ear canal. The medical term for swimmer’s ear is otitis externa.

Causes of swimmer’s ear include:

  • Swimming in polluted water
  • Scratching the ear or inside the ear
  • Object stuck in the ear

Trying to clean wax from the ear canal, especially with cotton swabs or small objects, can irritate or damage the skin.

Moisture in the ear makes the ear more prone to infection from water-loving bacteria such as pseudomonas. Other bacteria and (rarely) fungi can also cause infection.  The main causes of swimmer’s ear include:

  • Drainage from the ear — yellow, yellow-green, pus-like, or foul smelling
  • Ear pain — may worsen when pulling the outer ear
  • Itching of the ear or ear canal

When Dr. Price exams the ear canal, he will clean the ear canal of any drainage or debris.  Ear drops containing antibiotics or corticosteroids to reduce itching and inflammation will be prescribed.   If the ear canal is very swollen, a wick may be applied in the ear to allow the drops to travel to the end of the canal.

Placing something warm against the ears may reduce pain.