Otitis externa, more commonly known as “swimmer’s ear,” is an infection of the outer ear canal that causes pain, redness, itching, and drainage from the ear canal.
Relatively common in the United States, there are about 2.4 million cases of swimmer’s ear annually. However, unlike the name suggests, the condition affects non-swimmers and swimmers alike.
Left untreated, swimmer’s ear can worsen, creating further discomfort and further complications such as long-term infections, temporary hearing loss, and bone and cartilage damage.
That’s why it’s essential to learn more about swimmer’s ear, including symptoms, complications, common causes, how to prevent swimmer’s ear, and swimmer’s ear treatment options.
Symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear
Cases of swimmer’s ear can range from mild to severe and may include symptoms such as:
- Redness inside of your ear
- Ear pain
- Feeling as if your ear is “full” or partially blocked due to swelling, debris, or fluid
- Muddled or reduced hearing
While swimmer’s ear is common, it is recommended that you see your doctor immediately or visit an emergency room if you begin to feel severe ear pain, or if you develop a fever associated with other swimmer’s ear symptoms.
Potential Complications of Swimmer’s Ear
Severe and untreated cases of swimmer’s ear can result in potential complications, including:
- Temporary hearing loss
- Chronic swimmer’s ear that persists for more than three months
- Deep tissue infection, known as cellulitis, where the infection spreads into connective tissues and layers of the skin
- Cartilage and bone damage
- Wide-spread infections, which can become life-threatening
The Most Common Causes of Swimmer’s Ear
Before learning about the best swimmer’s ear remedy for you, it is worth taking the time to familiarize yourself with the most common causes of swimmer’s ear. Doing so can help you take precautions to prevent the infection from occurring and reduce your risk.
Swimmer’s ear is generally caused by bacteria but can be caused by viruses or fungus. However, your ears have a natural defense that helps prevent swimmer’s ear and keep your ears clean – earwax.
Earwax is a substance that is excreted by glands within your ear canal. Earwax helps trap small particles and dust from damaging your ear canal, but several factors can prevent earwax from protecting you from swimmer’s ear.
The most common causes of swimmer’s ear include:
- Abrasions and scratches in your ear canal, caused by debris, hard earwax, scratching inside of your ear, cotton swabs, or other objects
- Excess moisture in your ear, caused by humid weather or swimming
- Skin conditions and allergies caused by hair products or jewelry
Additionally, you may be at a higher risk for developing swimmer’s ear if you:
- Swim frequently
- Get water in your ear that has high levels of bacteria
- Use cotton swabs or other objects inside of your ear canal
- Have skin irritation or allergens near your ear
- Use devices that rest on or in your ear canal, such as hearing aids or earbuds
- Are a child (this condition is most common in children and early teens)
- Have narrow ear canals
Effective Swimmer’s Ear Treatments
If you have been diagnosed with otitis externa, it’s essential to get swimmer’s ear treatment to soothe uncomfortable symptoms and avoid chronic or long-term infection. Effective swimmer’s ear treatments include:
Keeping your outer ear canal clean: You must keep your outer ear canal clean when treating swimmer’s ear. If your ear is not clean, the infection may worsen, or medication eardrops may not be able to flow to all of the infected areas of your ear. Natural swimmer’s ear remedies such as SENSES Natural Ear Mist can help provide relief from itchy and painful symptoms while keeping your outer ear canal clean.
Medication: In most cases, your doctor will prescribe ear drop medication that you must use as directed to help clear up the infection. Depending on your infection's seriousness, these eardrops may include antibiotics, antifungal medicines, steroids, or acidic solutions.
While using any swimmer’s ear remedy, you can help reduce symptoms and speed up your recovery by taking the following precautions:
- Before using medical eardrops, hold the bottle in your hand for a few minutes to warm up the liquid, reducing the discomfort you may feel during use.
- After administering ear drops, lie on your side with your infected ear facing upward for at least a few minutes. This will allow the medication to travel through all the infected areas of your ear canal.
- Have someone assist you with putting in ear drops, if possible.
In severe swimmer’s ear cases, your doctor may also need to insert a wick composed of gauze or cotton to help drain your ear and allow the medication to reach the infected parts of your ear canal.
How to Prevent Swimmer’s Ear
There are several precautions that you can take to reduce your risk of contracting swimmer’s ear:
Keep your ears clean: Keeping your ears clean is one of the first lines of defense against swimmer’s ear. However, you mustn't put any objects, including cotton swabs, inside of your ear. SENSES Natural Ear Mist reduces wax congestion, softens and removes excessive ear wax, and helps keep your ears clean.
Keep your ears dry: Always thoroughly dry your ears after bathing or swimming. This should include tipping your head from side to side to allow excess water to drain from your ear canal.
Don’t swim in contaminated bodies of water: Be careful where you choose to swim. Avoid areas with high bacterial counts.
Avoid putting objects in your ear canal: Abrasive objects, such as cotton swabs, can irritate the thin skin inside of the ear and cause breakage, increasing your risk of developing swimmer’s ear.
Protect your ears from any irritants: Put cotton balls in your ear whenever using irritants, including hair dyes and hair sprays.
SENSES Offers a Natural Swimmer’s Ear Remedy
SENSES Natural Ear Mist offers a natural swimmer’s ear treatment and prevention option. SENSES is composed of natural ingredients, including non-hydrogenated coconut oil, jojoba oils, organic vitamin E, and other natural ingredients to help keep your ear clean and soothe uncomfortable swimmer’s ear symptoms.
Do you need a natural swimmer’s ear remedy? Try SENSES Natural Ear Mist today or contact us if you have any questions.