If your childhood memories of summer involve splashing around in water and spending days by the beach or pool, then they probably also include swimmer’s ear. Known to medical professionals as acute otitis externa, swimmer’s ear is an infection of the ear canal seen most often in children.
This infection becomes more common during the summer months due to an increase of water activities.
For someone to get swimmer’s ear, the infection needs two conditions:
- Germs must be present
- There must be a decrease of wax in the canal to allow the germs to penetrate the skin
Residual water left in the ear canal after swimming can cause an infection. These infections can cause pain, swelling, itching, discharge and a sense of fullness in the ear. Sometimes, the canal may become so swollen that prescribed ear drops cannot get to the source of the infection. In these cases, a wick must be placed in the canal to help the drops get to where they need to be to fight off the infection.
The infections typically happen when there is a decrease in the amount of wax in the canal. Wax is good; it protects the delicate skin of the ear canal and helps to prevent these types of infections. Prolonged water exposure and sticking Q-tips, pen caps, keys, fingernails or other items in your ear can therefore facilitate an infection. If the infection is mild, it may clear up without medical intervention if water is kept out of the ears using a mild warm hair dryer.
Although these infections are very bothersome, it is important not to scratch your ear as that may further compromise the delicate balance and cause the infection to become worse.
If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, please contact us by phone at 602.307.9919 to schedule a comprehensive evaluation and get your summer back on track.