Those who swim regularly will have heard of swimmer's ear. It often starts as a mild itch. It then worsens to the point of severe infection if preventative measures aren't taken. Antibiotic drops should be used when necessary. The water softens the outermost layer of the skin which prevents it acting as a barrier against infection by bacteria and fungi. They cross through the barrier and set up shop in the dermis.
The body may be able to fight the bugs itself. People often unwittingly make the problem worse by poking mucky fingers with sharp nails into the itchy sore ears. This damages the epithelium further, worsening and prolonging the problem.
It is imperative you visit your healthcare professional, doctor or nurse if you think you may have an ear infection. They will examine your ears, ask you a few questions and think about whether you need treatment or not.
The treatment choices include:
- Do nothing. If the condition is mild they may recommend just taking preventative measures. These may include wearing swimming ear plugs from http://zenplugs.com or keeping out of the water for a while.
- Antibiotic drops. These will be prescribed if you have classic otitis externa with no deep skin infection.
- Antibiotic tablets. These are given if there is deep skin infection (cellulitis) or the otitis externa has spread to the middle ear to become otitis media.