Otitis externa, a medical word for an infection in the ear canal that links your outer
and middle ears, is another name for an outer ear infection. The canal is also responsible for transporting sound waves from the environment to the eardrum. The most frequent cause of ear pain is an outer ear infection, which affects one out of every ten adults at some point in their lives.
Outer ear infections can also be caused by fungi, such as yeast, or viruses, in addition
to bacteria. Outer-ear infections are usually referred to as "e; swimmer's ears & quote; because of the ease with which germs can enter the ear canal when swimming. Allergic responses can cause outer ear infections. This type of infection usually clears itself within a few days or weeks. However, in some cases, the sickness may spread to other tissues.
Causes of Outer Ear Infection
An outer ear infection might result from excessive swimming, bathing, or showering.
Bacteria can thrive in the fluids left in the ear canal.
The skin covering the ear canal can potentially become infected if damaged. Using
headphones, scratching your ear, or putting cotton swabs in your ear can harm this
When this layer of skin is injured and inflamed, it can serve as a platform for
bacteria to thrive. Exposure to wetness and scratching can cause a depletion of the
ear's cerumen, leading to an increased risk of infection.
Ear pain, inflammation, and tenderness in the outer ear are symptoms. Symptoms
may not appear for up to 48 hours.
The following symptoms may accompany ear pain:
Swelling and redness
In rare situations, a mild fever.
An ear canal blockage in one or both ears.
a hearing impairment
Chewing produces considerable pain and discomfort in the jaws.
Swollen lymph nodes surrounding the ear
An infection in the ear (first cloudy; then cloudy, yellow, and pus-like.
Approximately one-third of persons suffering from the condition describe
symptoms that are so severe that they cannot engage in typical activities. Those
infected with the virus will need a few days off from work or school.
Risk Factors of Outer Ear Infection
Swimming, ear canal damage, and other reasons can lead to outer ear infections.
When ear canals are over-moisturized while swimming, they become more
sensitive to bacteria and fungi. Swimmers are thus more susceptible to get
outer ear infections.
It's also possible to get an ear infection if you frequently wipe your ear with
cotton swabs or wear headphones in your ear.
People who have previously had an outer ear infection or are prone to
infections are more likely to develop a new infection in the outer ear.
If pus from the middle ear oozes out of the eardrum and into the ear canal, it
can cause an outer ear infection.
Treatments for Outer Ear Infection
If you have a serious infection or if your symptoms do not improve after trying the
self-help procedures, you should consult a doctor. While most infections may be
treated quickly with the right medication, other illnesses might take months to heal.
Medication for Outer Ear Infection
One or more of the following drugs may treat an outer ear infection.
Over the Counter Painkillers
Pain relievers are available without a prescription. If you are feeling pain, your
doctor may prescribe paracetamol or ibuprofen as over-the-counter pain
medications. They may give you codeine if you are in a lot of discomfort.
Ear Sprays and Drops
Your doctor may advise ear drops or an antifungal spray, and this treatment may be
supplemented with a corticosteroid. Typically, at least seven days and up to
fourteen days are required.
Oral medicines are rarely used to treat outer ear infections. If your infection is too
severe to be treated with ear drops or sprays, your doctor may prescribe them. Your
general care doctor (GP) may refer you to a specialist if you need oral antibiotics.
Always read and follow the instructions on the medication's container. If you have
any questions regarding how to take your prescriptions, consult your pharmacist.
Preventing Outer Ear Infection
Here are some tips to avoid getting an outer ear infection.
To avoid water damage to the inside of your ears, avoid getting shampoo and
water in your ears when having a shower or bath. After that, dry your ears
with a dry cloth or a hairdryer (on the lowest heat setting).
Do not use cotton buds or any other instrument to clean your ear canal.
Wear earplugs or a swimming cap that fits snugly to avoid getting water in
your ears when swimming. Swimming in contaminated water is not
Consider using acidic drops before and after swimming if you are prone to
outer ear infections. These can be obtained from a drugstore.
Keep your skin condition, such as eczema or psoriasis, under control as much
If you observe an accumulation of earwax, consult a doctor or nurse. Seek the
assistance of a professional.
Book an appointment now to answer all your queries. You can book an appointment
with the top ENT Specialists in Karachi through Mahram.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)
1- How long does an adult's outer ear infection last?
If treated properly, an outer ear infection should clear up in 7 to 10 days.
2- Do outer ear infections go away on their own?
One in ten people will have one at some point. Usually, the infection is mild and
resolves within days or weeks. But it can endure longer, and it can rarely spread to
the neighboring tissues.
3- When should I go to the doctor for an ear infection?
If your symptoms don't improve after three days, call your doctor. A fever of higher
than 100.4°C indicates a more severe infection. Ear infections are common and can
contribute to hearing loss.