Swimmers Ear (Otitis Externa)

Swimmers Ear (Otitis Externa)

Long periods of moisture in the ear can cause irritation and the breakdown of skin in the ear canal, allowing bacteria and fungi to pass our normal body defences. Spending lots of time in the water swimming is the most common cause of ear canal infection and so it is often referred to as Swimmers Ear.

You don’t have to swim to get swimmer’s ear. Anything that can break the skin barrier in the canal can cause an infection. Scratching the ear or putting foreign objects like cotton buds down the ear canal can increase the risk of otitis externa. Similarly dry skin or eczema can also have an effect. 


  • Ear pain
  • Pain when chewing
  • Swelling of the ear canal and redness of the outer ear
  • Discharge from the ear canal (which may be clear at first then turn cloudy, yellowish and pus-like)


If you or your child is suffering from swimmers ear, then antibiotic ear drops may be prescribed by a GP to fight the infection. These are usually given for 7 to 10 days 


If your child is regularly suffering from otitis externa, then it may be worth using over-the-counter ear drops such as acetic acid to prevent any infection. Children should also avoid cleaning their ears themselves and should never put objects into their ears.

You may also find it helps to use swimming plugs when the child is in the pool which are available here from £4.59