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FAQ Frequently asked questions
What are outer ear infections?
Outer ear infections, or otitis externa, affect the skin lining the ear canal, between the opening of the ear and the eardrum. This causes inflammation and swelling of this region, which results in pain, itching in the ear, temporary hearing loss and …
What causes outer ear infections?
Outer ear infections are also known as swimmer's ear, since they tend to develop after swimming, showering, or other activities that cause the ears to become waterlogged. The soggy skin in the ear canal provides an ideal environment for bacteria and fungi …
Who develops outer ear infections?
Although outer ear infections can occur in anyone, they tend to be more common in teenagers and young adults. They are also more common in hot, humid climates that encourage moisture to collect in the ears.
How are outer ear infections diagnosed?
Your doctor will diagnose an outer ear infection based on your symptoms and examining your ear with an otoscope. If there is discharge from the ear, a swab of the area may be collected to help identify the type of infection.
How are outer ear infections treated?
In most cases, outer ear infections clear in about seven to 10 days when treated promptly with eardrop medications. However, your doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics, or clean the area if the inflammation is severe.
Will outer ear infections clear up without treatment?
Outer ear infections can clear up without treatment, but this may take several weeks. Delaying the treatment may also increase chances of developing complications.
What can be done at home to treat outer ear infections?
Applying a warm compress to the affected ear, or medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, may help to relieve any pain. In cases where a discharge is causing discomfort, cleaning the outer ear gently with cotton wool may help …
Can outer ear infections be prevented?
Outer ear infections may be prevented by wearing earplugs or a cap while swimming, avoiding dirty water and drying your ears well. Similarly, wearing a shower cap while showering may help protect your ear against irritation from soaps and shampoos. To …
About this article
Author: Lauren Donley BSc (Hons)
First answered: 18 Sep 2014
Last reviewed: 19 May 2018
Rating: 4.6 out of 5
Votes: 454 (Click smiley face below left to rate)
Category: Outer ear infections