Has your daily backstroke left bacteria swimming in your ear? Swimmer's ear, a bacterial or fungal infection of the outer ear canal, causes painful, swollen or itchy ears or redness in the ear area. Other symptoms include mild hearing loss or a milky discharge.
Use over-the-counter antiseptic ear drops or apply a drop or two of isopropyl alcohol with a medicine dropper in the ear canal. Shake your head to swish about the drops and then tilt the head to allow the canal to drain out. The ear drops or alcohol dry up excess water and help kill bacteria.
Ease the pain with a heating pad or hot water bottle.
Visit a doctor for a proper diagnosis, especially if the lymph glands are swollen, if the ear is swollen shut or extremely painful, or if a fever accompanies the infection. A doctor may prescribe antibiotics (drops or oral), corticosteroid ear drops to reduce swelling, or medication to reduce pain
Avoid swimming or submersion in water for at least 10 days after treatment to allow the ear to fully dry out and heal.
To prevent swimmer's ear, wear a swimming cap. After a swim, shake and tilt your head to remove water from the ears. If water remains, use a hair dryer on a low setting or antiseptic ear drops (or alcohol) to dry out the ears.