Otitis Externa : Swimmer’s ear

As the temperature outside continues to get warmer, many of your children’s days will be filled with swimming and other water activities. A common summer ailment we see in the office is swimmer’s ear also known as an outer ear infection. Swimmer’s ear can be a painful infection that, if not treated properly, may turn into a serious problem.

Swimmer’s ear has some very distinct symptoms when compared against other types of ear infections. Some of the most common symptoms are listed below

  • Itching
  • Mild discomfort that’s made worse by pulling the outer ear or pushing on the little “bump” in front of your ear (tragus)
  • Redness in the ear
  • Colorless, odorless fluid drainage from the ear
  • A decreased and muffled hearing, your child may say it sounds like they’re underwater

Advanced Infection Symptoms

  • Severe ear pain radiating to jaw, neck, and/or affected side of face
  • Swelling in the lymph nodes of the neck
  • Low grade fever
  • Complete blockage of the ear canal


As with any illness, prevention is key! Some things we recommend implementing when your child is swimming or playing with water are listed below

  • Avoid putting any cotton swab or ear cleaning tool into your child’s ear (this can actually disrupt the lining of the ear and leave a space for bacteria to harbor).
  • Keep your child from sticking their fingers in their ear
  • While ear drying drops are safe for at home use, we do not recommend other methods of irrigating the ear especially the use of ear candles to clean the ears per American Academy of Pediatrics and FDA warnings 

When to Call Our Office

Contact our office if your child presents with mild symptoms of an outer ear infection immediately, the sooner your child is brought in the sooner their symptoms will resolve. Diagnosis can be made by our providers on inspection and through report of symptoms. Most swimmers ear infections can be treated with a prescription ear drop solution.

If your child is suffering from any of the above symptoms, please do not hesitate to call our office and book an appointment!