Swimmer’s ear (otitis externa) is an infection of the outer ear, which is the section that runs from the eardrum to the opening on the outside. It occurs when water gets into the ear canal and does not come back out. The pool of trapped water is an ideal habitat and breeding ground for bacteria or fungi and soon the outer ear becomes infected. This can cause pain, tenderness, a discharge from the ears and temporary hearing impairment.
Swimmer’s ear can be caused by swimming, bathing, showering or from a cut or scratch in the ear, as sometimes happens when people poke objects too deeply in the ears when cleaning them.
For prevention, you can now buy non-prescription antiseptic ear drops to use whenever you feel that water is trapped in the ear.
Do not put anything, including fingers, deep into the ears when cleaning. Wear ear plugs when swimming, and you may need to put special drops or mineral oil in your ears beforehand. Avoid swimming in dirty or polluted water.