Pediatric Swimmer’s Ear

Pediatric Swimmer’s Ear

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Summary

Swimmer’s ear is a common childhood condition that happens when the ear canal becomes infected, usually after swimming or bathing.

Expanded overview

Swimmer's ear, also called otitis externa, is inflammation of the external ear canal that may happen when water gets into the ear and does not drain. The moisture left in the ear causes bacteria or fungi to grow in the ear canal, which leads to an infection.

Children typically develop swimmer’s ear after spending a lot of time in the water swimming. However, swimmer’s ear may also develop due to several other causes.  

Causes

The main cause of swimmer’s ear is when a child spends a lot of time in the water swimming.

However, swimmer’s ear may also be caused by:

  • A scratch that causes a break in the skin of the ear canal
  • Cleaning the ear canal too vigorously
  • Drainage from a middle ear infection
  • Dry skin or eczema in the ear canal
  • Excessive ear wax
  • Injury to the ear canal
  • Putting an object inside the ear canal
  • Using hearing aids or wearing earbuds often
  • Wearing a swim cap while swimming

Symptoms

Symptoms of swimmer’s ear include:

  • Ear pain
  • Drainage from the ear
  • Feeling of fullness in the ear
  • Itchiness inside the ear
  • Pain when chewing
  • Problems hearing
  • Redness on outside of ear
  • Swelling around the ear canal

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