Swimmer's Ear

Swimmer’s Ear: Prevention, Warning Signs, and Treatment Options

Swimmer’s ear, medically known as otitis externa, is a common condition affecting thousands of individuals each year. As a leading provider of earwax micro suction and custom hearing aids in Manchester, we understand how essential it is to promote awareness and prevention of swimmer’s ear. In this informative guide, we will explore the causes and symptoms of swimmer’s ear, share practical tips for prevention, and discuss the treatment options available for those who experience this uncomfortable condition.

Swimmer’s ear is an infection of the outer ear canal that usually results from water being trapped in the ear, creating a moist environment for bacterial or fungal growth. While the condition is commonly associated with swimming and water activities, it can also occur due to irritation or injury to the ear canal from using cotton swabs or other objects to clean the ears. If left untreated, swimmer’s ear can lead to more severe infections and complications that may affect hearing.

Preventing a swimmer’s ear is possible with proper ear hygiene practices and care. Understanding the warning signs and seeking timely professional help is essential for effective treatment and maintaining healthy ears. In this comprehensive article, we will shed light on the nature of the swimmer’s ear, provide valuable tips for prevention, and outline the ways in which our team of audiologists and hearing care professionals can support you in achieving optimal ear health. By taking proactive measures and seeking expert advice, you can minimise the risk of swimmer’s ear and ensure your ears remain in perfect condition.

Understanding the Causes and Symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear

Swimmer’s ear is an inflammation or infection of the external ear canal that arises due to trapped water, leading to an ideal environment for bacterial or fungal growth. Common causes and risk factors for developing swimmer’s ear include:

1. Prolonged water exposure – Spending extended periods in water, particularly untreated water in pools, lakes or rivers, can increase the risk of swimmer’s ear.

2. Inappropriate ear cleaning methods – Using cotton swabs or other objects to clean inside the ear canal can cause injury and irritation, allowing bacteria or fungi to enter the ear.

3. Existing skin conditions – People with skin disorders, such as eczema or psoriasis, may be more susceptible to developing swimmer’s ear due to the sensitivity of their skin.

Symptoms of swimmer’s ear can vary in severity and typically include:

• Itching within the ear canal

• Redness and swelling of the outer ear

• Pain when the outer ear is touched or moved

• Partial hearing loss

• Fluid or pus drainage from the ear

Prevention Tips for Swimmer’s Ear

Taking preventive measures to avoid swimmer’s ear is essential for maintaining the health of your ears. Follow these practical tips to minimise your risk:

1. Dry your ears properly – After swimming or showering, gently dry the outer ear with a towel and tilt your head to one side to drain any trapped water from the ear canal.

2. Avoid inserting objects into your ears – Refrain from using cotton swabs or other objects to clean your ears, as this can cause injury or irritation and increase the risk of swimmer’s ear.

3. Use earplugs when swimming – Wear earplugs specifically designed for swimming to keep water out of the ear canal and reduce your chances of developing swimmer’s ear.

4. Maintain proper ear hygiene – Keep the outer ear clean with a damp cloth without inserting anything into the ear canal.

Treatment Options for Swimmer’s Ear

Swift action and appropriate treatment are crucial for managing swimmer’s ear and preventing complications. Depending on the severity of the condition, your healthcare professional may recommend the following treatment options:

1. Ear drops – Prescription ear drops that contain a combination of antibiotics, antifungals, and/or steroids may be used to treat the infection and reduce inflammation. Follow the prescribed dosage and usage instructions.

2. Pain relief – Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or paracetamol, can help alleviate pain and discomfort associated with swimmer’s ear. Always consult your audiologist or healthcare provider before taking any medication.

3. Earwax micro suction – In cases where the infection is severe or persistent, professional earwax micro suction may be necessary to clear the ear canal of debris and facilitate healing. Our team of audiologists is experienced in safely performing this procedure.

4. Preventive measures – After successful treatment, adopting preventive measures and maintaining proper ear hygiene are crucial to avoid the recurrence of swimmer’s ear.


Swimmer’s ear is a common but preventable condition that can cause significant discomfort and may potentially lead to more severe complications if left untreated. By understanding the causes and symptoms of swimmer’s ear and practising proper ear health, you can minimise your risk of developing this condition. Our dedicated team of audiologists and hearing care professionals at The Manchester Hearing Aid Clinic is here to provide you with the support and expertise necessary to maintain optimal ear well-being. If you suspect you have a swimmer’s ear or need guidance on maintaining healthy ears, please reach out to our audiologist in Manchester for a consultation.

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