Swimmer’s Ear is a common condition that can affect those who swim often or anyone with open exposure to high levels of water, sand, dust, or dirt.

The condition, which is called otitis externa, is a fungal or bacterial infection of the outer ear canal that many refer to as an earache.

Symptoms & Causes

You might be suffering from this condition if you’re experiencing fever, difficulty hearing, or itchiness near the ear; sharp pain in your neck, face, or head; a full ear; or redness and swelling near the ear. You should contact your doctor as soon as possible at the sign of these symptoms.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Your doctor may look inside your ear canal to determine how badly your infection has progressed. The physician may then examine any discharged pus or fluid to determine whether the infection is fungal or bacterial. Your doctor could recommend antibiotic eardrops for up to two weeks. Vinegar eardrops might also be an option. A thorough in-office cleaning might also be required to make sure the drops can reach the infected area. Other treatments might include antibiotic prescription pills or painkillers like Tylenol or Advil. During your treatment, your doctor might advise avoiding swimming or scuba diving; flying; or wearing earplugs, hearing aids, or headphones.


Prevention is always the first and best line of defense. Use shower caps while swimming or bathing, or dry your outer ears thoroughly afterward using a soft towel. Using a blow dryer from at least a foot away is another option. After swimming, also try a homemade eardrop mixture of half white vinegar and half rubbing alcohol to keep the canal dry and at the right acidity level.

Further reading