An overview of one of the most common swimmers condition—the swimmers ear.
A swimmers ear is a painful infection affecting the outer portion of the ear and the ear canal. Although, water from the bath or shower can trigger it too, swimmers are the most susceptible to it due to the long exposure of the ear on treated, unclean water, hence the name.
The ear’s skin lining serves as a barrier against bacteria and fungi infections, as well as against excessive moisture. Breaking this lining will make our ear vulnerable. This happens due to the following.
>> Use of cotton buds too often when cleaning the ear which can also remove the ear wax that protects the canal.
>> Excessive moisture in the ear canal during showering or swimming which can alter the acidic environment of the ear canal.
>> Wearing earplugs, earphones and other devices inserted in the ears which can increase our vulnerability to the condition.
>> Chemicals from hair products (ie. Shampoo, condition, serums, and dye) may also irritate the canal and alter its protective properties.
Pain begins gradually for a day or two and particularly intense when touched. It could either feel itchy or tingly and outer ear may be red in color or swollen shut which can affect your hearing. It may also drain foul smelling clear, yellowish, or bloody fluid. Fever may also occur in some cases.
FIRST AID AND PREVENTION
Over the counter ear drops are not strong enough to cure the infection but it can be used temporarily to rid off pain. Oral pain medicines can also do the same. Seeking professional medical care is advised for specific medications suited to your condition. It is also best to avoid swimming or exposing your ear to use a shower cap and avoid placing objects that may scrape or scratch the ear canal.