Infection of the outer ear

Symptoms of Outer Ear Infection (Otitis Externa)

Outer ear infections are typically caused by bacterial or fungal growth in the outer ear canal. Symptoms of otitis externa may include:

  • Redness and swelling of the outer ear
  • Pain in the outer ear that may extend to the surrounding area
  • Itching in the ear canal
  • Drainage from the ear that may be clear, yellow, white, or greenish
  • Impaired hearing due to obstruction of the ear canal or inflammation of the eardrum
  • Fever

Causes of Outer Ear Infection

The most common cause of outer ear infections is swimming in contaminated water which can lead to bacterial or fungal growth in the moist ear canal. Other possible causes of otitis externa include skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis, chemical burns, injuries to the outer ear, or frequent cleaning or use of cotton swabs in the ear canal.

Diagnosis & Treatment of Outer Ear Infection

If your doctor suspects an outer ear infection, he or she may look inside the ear using a special tool called an otoscope. Tests such as culturing the drainage or swabs of the ear canal may also be done to identify the type and cause of the infection. Treatment of outer ear infections typically involve cleaning the ear with a mild soap and warm water solution and using antibiotics or antifungals to clear up the infection. In some cases, surgery may be recommended to remove obstructions or damaged tissue in the ear canal.

When to See a Doctor

It is important to speak with your doctor if you experience any of the above symptoms, as untreated infections can lead to hearing loss, facial nerve paralysis, or perforation of the eardrum. Your doctor can help you determine the best treatment to clear up the infection and prevent further complications.