Signs and Symptoms
1. Pain and tenderness in the ear, especially when moving your head or gently pulling on your earlobe.
2. Itchy or blocked feeling in the ear.
3. Watery, foul-smelling, or yellowish discharge from the ear.
4. Patches of broken, flaky skin surrounding the opening of the ear.
5.Temporary hearing loss or muffled hearing.
What to do now
Swimmer’s ear often clears up on its own. If not, it responds quickly to treatment and usually disappears within a few days. Here’s what you can do to speed recovery:
1. Keep the infected ear dry. Protect your ears when showering or washing your hair. Avoid swimming.
2. Use over-the-counter antiseptic eardrops. Leave the drops in your ear for a couple of minutes, then tilt your head to let them drain out.
3. Hold a warm compress over the ear to relieve pain. Over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin or acetaminophen may help, too. (Never give aspirin to a child under 12 who has chicken pox, flu, any other illness you suspect of being caused by a virus, such as a bad respiratory infection).
When to call a doctor
1. If symptoms persist after more than four or five days of self-care. It’s rare, but the infection can spread.
2. If you have symptoms and your eardrum has ever ruptured or otherwise been injured, or if you’ve had surgery.
3. If you have frequent bouts of swimmer’s ear or already have an ear infection.
4. If you have diabetes or a weakened immune system.
How to prevent it
1. Try to keep your ears moisture-free. Wear earplugs while swimming. Don’t forget to remove them immediately after and pull a shower cap over your ears for showering. Dry the out over parts of your ears after these activities, and use buffered alcohol eardrops, available in drug stores, to help evaporate remaining water.
2. Squirt lanolin eardrops into your ears before you swim to protect them from the water. Tilt you head so the drops get to the bottom of the ear canal, then let the liquid drain out.
3. Don’t get any water in the ear canal for three weeks after symptoms disappear, to keep the problem from coming back.
4. Use antiseptic eardrops if you get water in your ear and you have a tendency to get simmer’s ear.
5. Be careful when cleaning earwax from your ears. Don’t use any objects that could scratch the ear canal.