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Swimmer's ear

Swimmer’s ear (otitis externa) is a very common infection. You can get swimmer’s ear when water stays in your ear canal for a long time. Germs in the water are able to grow inside your ear canal and infect the skin.

Symptoms of swimmer’s ear usually show up a few days after you’ve been swimming. You might notice:

  • Itching inside your ear
  • Pain, especially when you tug or press on your ear
  • Swelling or redness
  • Hearing loss
  • Pus draining from your ear
  • Fever

Swimmer’s ear needs to be treated by a doctor.


If you have symptoms of swimmer’s ear, see your doctor. In the meantime, relieve pain by placing something warm against your ear, and by taking over-the-counter pain medication.

To prevent swimmer’s ear:

  • Use ear plugs or a bathing cap to keep your ears as dry as possible.
  • Dry your ears using a towel or cool hair dryer.
  • Do not put cotton swabs, fingers, pencils, paperclips, or anything else into your ear.
  • Do not try to remove ear wax; it protects your ears from infection.

Our Physicians

Rex ENT Specialists can diagnose and treat your ear pain. Dr. John A. Garside, M.D., specializes in treating ear, nose and throat disorders in adults and children.


To learn more about swimmer’s ear, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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