What is Swimmer’s Ear?

Swimmer’s ear is another term for otitis externa. This is a painful condition of the external ear canal. When you swim frequently, ear wax is washed away, leaving the ear dry and unprotected and thus vulnerable to infection. This can happen to people who swim in pools and lakes or oceans, but because they are all teeming with tiny organisms that are usually harmless to a healthy ear, but can cause problems in an ear that is dry and irritated.

The skin in the ear canal is so fragile that even rushing against it with a cotton swab can cause microscopic irritations that can become infected when swimming. Also an ear that is irritated is more susceptible to infection when it is humid or when a person perspires, so you can see more cases of “swimmer’s ear” or otitis externa in the warm summer months. if you have sudden ear pain that hurts to touch the area in front or around the ear, contact your family doctor. Treatment is usually prescription ear drops.

What about SURFER’S EAR?
Surfer’s ear is another term for exostosis, which is bony growths in the ear canal. This condition is seen in people who swim in cold lakes, streams or oceans. Scientists don’t quite know why the growths form but they theorize that it is the body’s way of trying to protect the ears from wind and cold water. The growths rarely cause a problem unless they become irritated and grow so large that they block the canals or trap water and debris deep in the canals. There really is no treatment needed unless they restrict hearing or cause chronic ear infections and then they would need to be surgically removed.

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