Does Your Child Have Swimmer’s Ear?

Your child who swims in the pool every day is complaining about an itchy ear. The family went to the lake last weekend and now your child is having trouble hearing. Maybe your child hasn’t been swimming recently, but you notice redness and swelling in his ear. Recognizing the symptoms of swimmer’s ear can help you know if your child has swimmer’s ear, and help you know when to talk to your child’s pediatrician.

What is swimmer’s ear?

Swimmer’s ear, also known as otitis externa, is an infection of the ear canal. Both fungi and bacteria can cause the infection, but most cases of swimmer’s ear are bacterial infections.

It’s important to treat swimmer’s ear when you first notice symptoms to prevent complications.

What causes swimmer’s ear?

Swimmer’s ear is common in children who swim and spend a lot of time in the water. Water that remains in your ear after swimming can damage the skin in the ear canal and promote bacterial growth.

Your child can develop swimmer’s ear without swimming, however. Damaging the skin inside the ear canal can cause swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear may also be caused by a middle ear infection.

What are the symptoms of swimmer’s ear?

Mild symptoms of swimmer’s ear include itching or redness inside the ear, mild pain or discomfort that can be made worse by pushing or pulling on the ear, and clear drainage from the ear. Some children may find that chewing hurts their ear.

Moderate symptoms of swimmer’s ear include increased itchiness, redness, and pain, excessive drainage, pus, swelling inside the ear, and impaired hearing.

Advanced symptoms of swimmer’s ear include severe pain in and around the ear, complete blockage of the ear canal, swelling in the lymph nodes of the neck, and redness or swelling of the outer ear. In severe cases, swimmer’s ear may cause fever.

How do you get rid of swimmer’s ear?

Talk to your child’s pediatrician as soon as you notice symptom’s of swimmer’s ear. Treating the infection early helps prevent complications or more severe infections. Your child’s pediatrician can diagnose swimmer’s ear and help your child recover as quickly as possible.

Always speak to a pediatrician before using over the counter ear drops after swimming.

Looking for pediatric care in Northwest Arkansas? Northwest Arkansas Pediatrics offers acute care same-day appointments and walk-in clinics in Fayetteville and Pinnacle Hills.