Infection of the outer ear caused by susceptible bacteria

Bacterial Infections of the Outer Ear

Ear infections are among the most common health problems, particularly among young children. While most ear infections occur in the middle ear, infections of the outer ear are also possible. This type of infection is typically caused by bacteria and is known as acute otitis externa or swimmer's ear.

Acute otitis externa is marked by inflammation and swelling of the outer ear, along with itching, pain and sometimes a drainage of pus. It is often caused by a bacterial infection, although fungi can also be to blame. Some of the most common bacteria associated with the infection include Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus pneumonia.

Swimmer's ear is also a possible cause of outer ear infection. This occurs when too much water accumulates inside the ear, leading to bacterial and fungal growth.

Treatment of Outer Ear Infections

Treatment of outer ear infections typically involves the use of antibiotics. Commonly prescribed antibiotics for ear infections include ofloxacin (Floxin), ciprofloxacin (Cipro), and amoxicillin (Amoxil). If fungus is the cause of the infection, antifungal medications such as clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF) or miconazole (Monistat) may be prescribed.

In addition to medicines, home treatments may be helpful in relieving ear infection symptoms. These include:

  • using over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce pain and swelling
  • applying warm compresses to reduce pain and inflammation
  • applying a solution of diluted white vinegar and rubbing alcohol to the affected area several times a day
  • avoiding activities that involve water exposure
  • cleaning the ear with a cotton swab daily