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Guide To Swimmers Ear

Swimmers ear is also known as Otitis externa, which is a painful infection, largely caused when getting water inside your ear.  It is a visible infection as it inflames the outer ear and the ear canal making the surrounding skin swell.

Commonly found in children, swimmer’s ear can also affect adults. If you spend a lot of time in the water, whether you take regular swimming classes or will be going on holiday, it’s advised that you wear swimming ear plugs. 

For those with diabetes or weak immune systems you can develop the infection but on a larger scale, which could result in hospitalisation.  


Swimming is a great form of exercise and is a pleasurable hobby, but without the right protection you could run the risk of infection. The most common ear infections caused when spending too much time in the pool is called Swimmers Ear or Otitis externa. To help prevent this painful infection wear ear plugs for swimmers or, even better, custom fit earplugs to stop water coming into your ear canal. 

Swimmer’s ear Facts

•    Your ear canal becomes inflamed, red in colour and sensitive to touch
•    When water enters the ear canal bacteria can manifest, which causes swimmer’s ear
•    You must protect your ears from water as it can wash away the protective layer that ear wax creates
•    Swimmer’s ear can also be caused by a fungal infection or a pimple in the ear
•    Avoid itching
•    Discharge can be one of the symptoms and can be either colourless, white or yellow in appearance
•    A rare symptom is vertigo or dizziness

Little Swimmers

Swimmers ear can be more commonly found in children and, as most children love the water, it can be a huge concern from parents. There are specifically designed ear plugs available for children that can help prevent the ear infection. Children’s ear plugs are designed in a smaller scale but some of them are not waterproof, so when looking for a pair of ear plugs make sure they are suitable for swimming and other water sports.

Curing Swimmer’s Ear

If you or your child is suffering from swimmer’s ear, you will need to consult a GP. The GP will then examine the ear and prescribe one or two ear drops, one to treat the infection and a second to reduce any swelling. Once you have discovered you have swimmer’s ear and have begun treatment you will need to stay away from the pool for a good couple of weeks until it is cleared. 

To treat any pain that you may be experiencing use paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Further Information

The outer ear is used as a barrier by the ear canal from ear infections. However, this barrier can be broken by everyday chores such as:

  • Cleaning your ears with cotton wool buds or other objects that you insert in the ear canal for cleaning purposes can break the barrier

  • Having too much moisture in the ear canal, such as water form swimming, a shower or a bath

  • Hair dyes, shampoos and bleaches can result in an ear infection and inflame the outer ear

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