Swimmer’s ear (otitis externa) is an inflammation from an infection of the external ear canal. Swimmer’s ear is most often caused by bacteria. It may also be caused by fungi. Water that stays in the ear canal during swimming, for instance, may let bacteria and fungi grow.
Many different things can make it more likely for your child to get swimmer's ear. Swimming or being in other wet, humid conditions are common causes. Other possible conditions that may lead to the development of swimmer's ear include:
Children are more likely to get swimmer’s ear if they:
Here are some tips to help prevent swimmer’s ear:
Another tip to help dry the ears is to use a hair dryer set to the low or cool setting. Hold the dryer at least 12 inches from your child’s head. Wave the dryer slowly back and forth. Don’t hold it still.
Swimmer’s ear can cause the following symptoms:
The symptoms of swimmer's ear may seem like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees their healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Your child’s healthcare provider will ask questions about your child’s health history and current symptoms. They will examine your child, including the ears. The provider may use a lighted tool called an otoscope to look in your child’s ear. This will help the provider know if there is also an infection in the middle ear called otitis media. This infection often doesn't occur with swimmer’s ear. But some children may have both types of infections
Your child’s healthcare provider may also take a culture from the ear drainage to help figure out the best treatment.
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Swimmer’s ear, when correctly treated by a healthcare provider, often clears up in 7 to 10 days. Treatment may include:
Complications of swimmer’s ear include:
Our team of pediatric ear, nose and throat specialists combines clinical excellence in a compassionate, child-friendly environment. Discover more about the treatments we offer.
Invest in future cures for some of life's most devastating diseases. Give today to help more children grow up stronger.
Our pediatric otolaryngology experts diagnose and treat a wide range of pediatric ear, nose and throat disorders.