Health Watch — Ear Care: Swimmer's Ear

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications  and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

This week on Health Watch, we’ve been talking about taking care of your ears. One common cause of ear infections is swimmer’s ear, which occurs when water gets into the ear canal and creates an environment where bacteria can flourish. It isn’t only caused by swimming. You can develop this infection from baths and showers, scratching the ear, attempting to clean the ear, or from skin conditions such as psoriasis.

Dr. Peter Roland, chairman of otolaryngology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says swimmer’s ear should be treated with antiseptic or antibiotic ear drops, with oral antibiotics only used for special cases. You can help prevent swimmer’s ear by drying your ears after swimming or bathing with a hair dryer or by using ear plugs when you go swimming. Don’t try to clean out your ears with cotton swabs. Symptoms of swimmer’s ear include redness, swelling, pain, itching or a feeling that the ears are blocked.

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September 2008

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