Ouch! Not Swimmer’s Ear!

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While summer is usually all good there are some not so good things that can happen while you are out and about soaking up the summer sun.

Going to the pool is a must on these 90 degree days but you can’t enjoy your time at the pool if you are suffering from swimmer’s ear.

That is why Family Medical Walk-In Clinics wanted to provide you with some tips on how to avoid that painful annoyance this summer season.

What is Swimmers Ear?


Swimmer’s ear is an infection in the outer ear canal, which runs from your eardrum to the outside of your head.  It is usually brought on by excess water remaining in your ear after swimming, creating a moist environment that aids bacterial growth (



The littlest things can cause swimmer’s ear, anywhere from sticking your fingers into your ear to putting cotton swabs in them.  Doing such things may damage the thin layer of skin that lines your ear canal causing irritation and/or infection.

The infection usually occurs from;

  • Excess moisture in your ear.
  • Scratches or abrasions in your ear canal.
  • Sensitivity reactions (jewelry, hair products, etc.).

Be Cautious of…


These activities may increase your risk for swimmers ear;

  • Swimming
  • Swimming in areas with a higher level of bacteria; ponds, rivers, lakes, etc.
  • Excessive earwax build-up.
  • Use of items, such as; a swimmers cap, headphones or even a hearing aid.
  • Skin allergies.



Three stages;

  • Mild
  • Moderate
  • Advanced stages

Mild Symptoms


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  • Itching in your ear canal.
  • Redness in your ear.
  • Mild discomfort caused by pulling on your ear lobe or pushing on the little bump on the front of your ear.
  • Some drainage or odorless fluid.

Moderate Symptoms

  • Intense itching.
  • Increasing pain/throbbing in your ear.
  • Extensive redness in the ear.
  • Excessive fluid drainage.
  • Discharge or pus coming out of the ear.
  • Swelling or the feeling of fullness in the ear.
  • Decreased or muffled hearing.

Advanced stages

  • Severe pain that extends through your face, neck or side of your head.
  • Full blockage of your ear canal.
  • Redness or swelling on the outer part of your ear.
  • Swelling in your neck (lymph nodes).
  • Fever.

When to See a Doctor


Swimmers ear usually isn’t serious, if treated promptly and properly.

Contact your primary care doctor or even seek treatment at an Urgent Care facility if you are experiencing even mild symptoms.

Can you Prevent Swimmers Ear?


Yes, it is possible.  Follow these guidelines;

  • Keep your ears dry
    • Dry only your outer ear.
    • Tilt your head to the side and let excess water drain out.
    • Put a blow dryer to your ears (only on a low setting and at least 0.3 meters away from your head).
  • Swim wisely
    • Don’t put your head under water.
    • Wear ear protection.
  • Don’t stick random objects in your ears
    • Cotton swabs
    • Paper clips
    • Etc.
  • Protect your ears from products that may irritate them (hair spray, mousse, etc.)
    • Use cotton balls as a protectant but don’t stick them very far into your ear.
  • Be very cautious after having an ear infection or surgery
    • If you have recently had surgery or an ear infection, it is best to talk to your Dr. before swimming.


We hope these tips can help you have a pain-free summer!


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