Swimmer’s ear


Swimmer’s ear may typically be identified by a doctor during an office visit. You may require more testing if your infection has progressed or if it keeps recurring.

Preliminary testing

Your physician will probably determine if you have swimmer’s ear based on the symptoms you describe, the questions they ask, and an office examination. At your initial appointment, a lab test is typically not necessary. Typically, the initial assessment by your doctor will cover:

  • Using an otoscope to assess your ear. Your ear canal may look scaly, red, and swollen. The ear canal may contain skin flakes or debris.
  • Checking your tympanic membrane (eardrum) for tears or other damage. Your doctor will use a tiny suction device or a tool with a tiny loop or scoop on the end to clean your ear canal if the view of your eardrum is obscured.

More tests

Your doctor might suggest additional testing, such as sending a sample of fluid from your ear to be tested for bacteria or fungus, depending on the results of the initial evaluation, the severity of the symptoms, or the stage of your swimmer’s ear.


  • Your doctor will probably recommend that you see an Ears, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist if your eardrum is injured or torn. If your middle ear is the major location of infection, the specialist will assess its status. This examination is crucial because several medications used to treat infections of the outer ear canal are ineffective when used to treat middle ear infections.
  • If your infection fails to improve with treatment, during a subsequent appointment, your doctor might collect a sample of the earwax residue or discharge and forward it to a laboratory for identification of the specific bacteria causing the infection.


Stopping the infection and allowing your ear canal to heal are the objectives of treatment.


To ensure that eardrops reach all diseased areas, your outer ear canal needs to be cleaned. Your doctor will remove any discharge, clumps of earwax, flaky skin, and other debris using a suction device or an ear curette.

Medications for infection

Depending on the kind and severity of your illness, your doctor may typically recommend eardrops that include any combination of the following substances for swimmer’s ear:

  • Steroid to lessen inflammatory
  • Acidic solution to assist in restoring the typical antibacterial environment in your ear
  • Antibiotic to counteract bacteria
  • Antifungal medication to combat fungus-caused infection

Find out from your doctor how to take your eardrops most effectively. The following are a few suggestions to utilize eardrops:

  • To get the drops’ temperature closer to body temperature, hold the bottle in your palm for a while.
  • For a few minutes, lay on your side with your infected ear up to facilitate medication passing completely through your ear canal.
  • If at all feasible, ask someone to assist you in putting the drops.
  • Pull the ear up and back before applying drops to a child’s or adult’s ear.

If swelling, inflammation, or excessive discharge have completely clogged your ear canal, your doctor may insert a cotton or gauze wick to encourage drainage and aid in delivering medication.

Your doctor may advise oral antibiotics if your infection is more severe or doesn’t improve with eardrop therapy.

Medications for pain

Your doctor may advise taking over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, or acetaminophen to reduce the discomfort of swimmer’s ear.

Your doctor might suggest a stronger painkiller if your discomfort is severe or if swimmer’s ear is more advanced.

While undergoing treatment, follow these steps to maintain ear dryness and prevent additional irritation:

  • Refrain from swimming or engaging in scuba diving activities.
  • Avoid using earplugs, hearing aids, or earbuds until the pain or discharge has ceased.
  • Be cautious not to allow water into your ear canal when showering or bathing. Utilize a cotton ball with a layer of petroleum jelly to safeguard your ear while bathing or showering.