Swimmer's ear (otitis externa)

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Learn how to identify, treat and prevent otitis externa, an infection of the ear canal.

Key points

  • Swimmer's ear is an infection of the ear canal, usually caused by swimming.
  • Swimmer's ear is usually treated with prescription eardrops. You can treat any pain with over-the-counter medications, but discuss this with your child's doctor.
  • See your doctor if your child has a high fever or if the skin around or behind the ear is red or swollen.
  • Never put cotton buds or Q-tips in the ear.
  • Consider using soft earplugs when swimming to prevent water from getting in the ear.
Last updated: July 13th 2022