Swimmer’s ear or otitis externa is a painful infection of the outer ear and the canal. It affects people of all age-groups especially in summers when one goes for swimming. Therefore the disorder is also called swimmer’s ear. Our canal is cylindrical in shape and extends right from the outer ear to the eardrum. The length of the canal, the earwax that it produces, the acidic environment that it builds up, ensure the protection of the inner ear against infection causing bacteria, excessive moisture, dust and debris and other harmful foreign objects. When there occurs some injury to the canal, and the system of protection fails, moisture and germs may get trapped in to the ear, resulting in swimmer’s ear.
The most common bacteria causing the infection are Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Exposure of the affected ear to shower or bath water may worsen the condition. Diabetics, due to their feeble immune system, may suffer from a severe form of swimmer’s ear and may require intensive treatment. Inserting cotton tipped swabs for cleaning ear, earplugs, hearing aids, head phones may break the skin lining of the canal, making the ear prone to easy infection. Too much of exposure to water or moisture may alter the acidic environment within the canal, resulting in easy invasion by bacteria. Also chemicals like hair dyes, bleach and shampoo, if gets in to the ear, may irritate the canal and destroy its protective properties. This again results in infection. Thus, the above are the causes of swimmer’s ear.
1. Intense pain in the ear
2. Itching in the ear canal
3. Draining of white, yellow or bloody foul smelling fluids from the ear.
4. Swelling of ear
5. Redness in the surrounding skin
6. Scaly skin in the outer ear
7. Swelling of lymph nodes in the neck
8. Trouble hearing
10. Dizziness and vertigo
11. Ringing in the ear
Home Remedies for Swimmer’s Ear
1. Placing a hot water bottle wrapped in towel on the affected ear lessens pain.
2. Garlic has excellent anti-bacterial properties. Garlic oil may be used to treat swimmer’s ear.
3. Pouring a mixture of equal parts of alcohol and distilled white vinegar in to the canal with the help of a sterile eye dropper can control the itching in the canal.
4. A mixture of vinegar and water may be used as a soothing ear drop.
5. A dropper may be used to pour few drops of heated baby oil in to the ear. This heals inflammation.
6. A hair dryer may be used to evaporate the moisture that has collected within the ear.
7. Few drops of hydrogen peroxide may be poured in to the ear. It serves as an antiseptic pain reliever.
8. Usage of mineral oils can also fetch good results.
9. Using extra virgin olive can protect the ear against moisture by forming a coating.
10. A steamy shower can minimize the severity of swimmer’s ear symptoms.