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Swimmer’s Ear or Otitis Externa

Summertime means an increase in ear infections caused by contaminated water remaining in the ear after swimming. Swimmer’s Ear, or Otitis Externa, occurs in the outer ear and can be very painful. Although it can affect people of all ages it is most common in children.

Symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear

  • Itchiness, redness, and swelling in the ear canal
  • Pain when the ear is pulled or touched
  • Drainage from the ear


Swimming in public pools, parks, or recreation areas causes moisture to enter the ear and creates a perfect environment for germs to grow, particularly if the water is allowed to remain for an extended period of time. It cannot, however, be passed from person to person.


Swimmer’s Ear can be treated by your ENT or other healthcare provider. Generally you will be prescribed antibiotic ear drops.


After swimming use a towel to dry your ears as much as possible, tilting your ear down to drain any water in the ear canal. The careful use of a blow dryer can also help remove any remaining water. Be sure and hold the dryer several inches away to avoid injury. If you spend a lot of time in the water or are prone to Swimmer’s Ear you may want to consider ear plugs when swimming.

Download the CDC’s “Swimmer’s Ear Fact Sheet” Here >