Dr. Taneja would like to share some useful information on how to treat and prevent what is commonly called “Swimmers Ear”.
Swimmers Ear (otitis externa)
Patient has intense pain when the ear is touched or pulled. Currently swimming pain when the tab of the earlobe overlying the ear canal is pushed in the ear feels plugged up and drainage is clear white, foul smelling or bloody.
Swimmer's ear is an infection of the skin lining the ear canal. It is caused by excessive moisture in the ear canal from swimming. When water gets trapped in the ear canal it alters the acidic environment of the canal and allows bacteria to invade the canal. The most common bacteria responsible for outer ear infections are staphlococcus aureus and pseudomonas aerginosa.
Children are more likely to get swimmer's ear from swimming pools than from lakes. The chlorine in the pool kills the good bacteria in the ear canal, and harmful bacteria tend to take over.
Over-the-counter drops temporarily control the pain, but are not strong enough to cure the infection.Antibiotic drops are needed to cure the infection. You should also apply heat to the ear for some relief and take over the counter ibuprofen.
With treatment, symptoms should be better in 3 days.
The key to prevention is keeping the ear canals dry when your child is not swimming. After swimming get all the water out of the ear canals by turning the head to the side and pulling the earlobe in different directions so the water runs out. If recurrences are a problem, rinse the ear canals with rubbing alcohol for 1 minute each time he/she finishes swimming. This is not a cure, this is only for prevention.
Common Mistakes:Don't use earplugs of any kind for prevention or treatment, as they jam ear wax back into the ear canal and wax buildup traps water behind it and increases the risk of swimmer's ear.
When to call the doctor:Call our office if the symptoms are not cleared in 3 days a fever occurs the ear becomes severely painful and/or if lymph node behind the earlobe becomes swollen and tender.