It is also known as swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear (external otitis) is the recurring inflammation and irritation of the external ear canal. There may also be an infection. Inside the canal, skin may be peeled off (eczema). Skin splits when itching eczema, and bacteria and fungus invade the ear canal. Swimming in dirty water may cause this disease. When ear mucus is removed from the canal, skin may be irritated, itched, and torn. This causes further itching the ear canal by using the favorite “tool” (hairpin etc.) of the person. There is one more risk. It is the possibility of perforating the tympanic membrane. Hair sprays and hair dyes may also damage the ear canal. External otitis is sometimes caused by fungus. Aspergillus Niger is the most frequently encountered fungus. Its symptoms are the same with furunculosis. Furunculosis is the regeneration of boils and it is triggered by infection of a feather sac. This illness frequently repeats itself. External otitis (swimmer’s ear) is seen in young adults.
- Itching on the external ear canal.
- Ear ache
- Formation of green or yellow and fetid purulence
- Ear each while moving the head
- Hearing loss
If you have itching or flaking in your ear, or pain inside the ear canal, these may be symptoms of external otitis. Usually, a yellowish or yellowish green matter flows outside of the ear, which ameliorates the pain. If inflammation or swelling of a tissue block the ear canal, there may occur impairments in hearing.
Doctors diagnose external otitis by examining the ear canal with a device called otoscope. If there is inflammation, a sample is taken and sent to laboratory.
Most external otitis cases are not dangerous when properly treated, even though they may disturb the patient. If not treated, this infection may spread to the adjunctive bones and cartilages and cause damage especially in the case of diabetic patients.
If you suspect having swimmer’s ear, you can do something for reliving the pain before consulting your doctor. Keeping a warm (not hot) pillow on your ear may help. Aspirin or other painkillers can also lessen the pain.
After the diagnosis, your doctor is expected to clean the ear canal by a vacuum tool and a cotton bud. This may lessen the severity of irritation or pain. Later, the doctor may recommend one of the various treatment methods. Generally, an eardrop including corticosteroid (to stop the itching and to lessen the inflammation) and antibiotic (to control the infection) are prescribed for the patient. Sometimes oral pills may also be used. Painkillers are recommended in case of severe pains. One should be cautious about water entering into the ear.
If there is no visible healing within 3-4 days, your doctor can prescribe antibiotics to be taken orally. If the bacteria causing the infection are identified by lab tests, an antibiotic specifically effective on the bacteria is recommended. If external otitis (swimmer’s ear) is cause by fungus, sulphanilamide powder is sprinkled. If it is due to furunculosis, antibiotics to be taken orally or as eardrops are used for treatment. The illness may repeat especially when the triggering factor is fungus.
External otitis is usually avoidable. Do not swim in dirty waters. Dry your ears after taking shower or swimming. Infection is more likely to happen, if the ear canal is humid. Plug your ears with small balls made of sheep wool while using hair sprays and dyeing your hair. There balls are water repellent.