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Home :: Ear Infection, Outer

Ear Infection, Outer

Inflammation or infection of the ear canal that extends from the eardrum to the exterior of the ear. This is a particularly common problem in athletes when the ear canal remains moist due to perspiration running into the ear. It is also very likely to be a problem in swimmer, divers and water-polo players.


  • Bacterial or fungal infection of the delicate skin lining of the ear canal.
  • Excess moisture from any cause.
  • Swimming in dirty, polluted water.
  • Frequent swimming in hot or warm chlorinated pools. Chlorinated water dries out the ear canal, allowing bacteria or fungi to enter the skin.
  • Irritation from swabs, metal objects, such as bobby pins, or ear plugs, especially if they are left in a long time long time.
  • Previous external-ear infections.
  • Skin allergies.
  • Diabetes mellitus or other disorders that predispose one to infection.

Signs and symptoms

  • Ear pain that worsens when the earlobe is pulled.
  • Slight fever (sometimes).
  • Discharge of thick white matter or pus from the ear.
  • Temporary loss of hearing on the affected side.


Just touching the outer ear can be painful. Your doctor can usually tell all he or she needs to from looking in your ear. Sometimes a specimen is taken by wiping a swab just inside the ear, and this is sent to the laboratory to find out what germ is involved.


Medical Treatment

  • Your doctor will probably cleanse the ear canal and insert a cotton wick. The wick allows medication to reach all infected parts.
  • Severe case may require treatment by an ear, nose and throat specialist.


  • You may use non-prescription drugs, such as acetaminophen or aspirin, for minor pain.
  • Your doctor may prescribe:
    Ear drops that contain antibiotics and cortisone drugs to control inflammation and fight infection.
    Oral antibiotics for severe secondary bacterial infection.
    Codeine or narcotics for a short time to relieve severe pain.

Home Treatment

  • If your doctor has inserted a wick, moisten the wick with medication every hour for the first 24 hours. Continue to use drops according to your doctor's instructions after the wick is removed. Clean the tip of the dropper with alcohol after each use. Don't let other persons .use the medicine.
  • After you have had otitis external, keep the prescription ear drops on hand; If the ear canals get wet for any reason, such as swimming, showering or shampooing, put drops in both ears at bedtime.
  • Don't clean your ears with any object or chemical. A small amount of ear wax helps protect against infection.
  • Don't use ear plugs, alcohol in the ears, lamb's wool or anything else to keep ears dry. These are not only useless-they may trap moisture or cause irritation.

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Disclaimer: website is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. Always take the advice of professional health care for specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment. We will not be liable for any complications, or other medical accidents arising from the use of any information on this web site. Please note that medical information is constantly changing. Therefore some information may be out of date.