Otitis Externa (swimmer's ear)

Otitis externa is the inflammation and infection of the external ear canal.


The skin in the ear canal can become red and swollen due to a bacterial or fungal infection. Symptoms include pain in the ear canal, itchiness, foul smelling yellow or green pus in the ear canal, fever, hearing loss and tinnitus.


Water can enter the ear canal and not drain out, which can lead the skin to become soft and an ideal environment for bacteria and fungus to grow, particularly after swimming.


Inspection (otoscopy) of the ear canal is the first stage of diagnosis. A medical professional may also take a swab of the infection to determine if it is bacterial or fungal.

Treatment and prevention

Drops or ointment may be prescribed to treat the infection and the ear may be suctioned.

To prevent otitis externa, keep the ear dry while swimming and showering by using ear plugs. Avoid swimming in polluted water and do not poke your fingers or other objects into your ear.