The Causes of Swimmers Ear and How to Treat it.

A common source of the infection is increased moisture trapped in the ear canal, from baths, showers, swimming, or moist environments. When water is trapped in the ear canal, bacteria that normally inhabit the skin and ear canal multiply, causing infection of the ear canal. Swimmers ear needs to be treated to reduce pain and eliminate any effect it may have on your hearing, as well as to prevent the spread of infection.

Other factors that may contribute to swimmers ear include:

  • •Contact with excessive bacteria that may be present in hot tubs or polluted water

  • •Excessive cleaning of the ear canal with cotton swabs or anything else

  • •Contact with certain chemicals such as hair spray or hair dye (Avoid this by placing cotton balls in your ears when using these products.)

  • •Damage to the skin of the ear canal following water irrigation to remove wax

  • •A cut in the skin of the ear canal

  • •Other skin conditions affecting the ear canal, such as eczema or seborrhea


Treatment for the early stages of swimmers ear includes careful cleaning of the ear canal and use of eardrops that inhibit bacterial or fungal growth and reduce inflammation. Mildly acidic solutions containing boric or acetic acid are effective for early infections.


  • •Drops are more easily administered if done by someone other than the patient.

  • •The patient should lie down with the affected ear facing upwards.

  • •Drops should be placed in the ear until the ear is full. If your hearing is muffled, then you did it right.

  • •After drops are administered, the patient should remain lying down for a few minutes so the drops can be absorbed.


  • •A dry ear is unlikely to become infected, so it is important to keep the ears free of moisture during swimming or bathing.

  • •Use ear plugs when swimming

  • •Use a dry towel or hair dryer to dry your ears

  • •Have your ears cleaned periodically by an otolaryngologist if you have itchy, flaky or scaly ears, or extensive earwax

  • •Dont use cotton swabs to remove ear wax. They may pack ear wax and dirt deeper into the ear canal, remove the layer of earwax that protects your ear, and irritate the thin skin of the ear canal. This creates an ideal environment for infection.

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