What is Otitis Externa?

What is Otitis Externa?

What is Otitis Externa?

What is otitis externa?  Otitis externa is infection and inflammation of the outer ear and ear canal.   It is a common problem, particularly amongst swimmers. It often starts off as a mild irritation. This is worsened by inserting sharp objects in the in the ears to scratch as well as by warm soapy water and sea water.

Wearing custom molded swimming ear plugs is an ideal preventative for keeping otitis externa and swimmer's ear at bay.  ZenPlugs Ear Plugs are ideal. This is because they are fitted to the ear canals and contain an antibacterial which kills the bacteria which cause ear infections.  Click on 'Buy Now' if you want healthy ears.


  • Infection
  • Irritation from soaps, chemicals and inflammation
  • Eczema and psoriasis

Signs and Symptoms

  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Soreness
  • Pain
  • Discharge
  • Reduced hearing.  Caused by the build up of debris in the canal.

 Worsening Factors

  • Dirty fingers in ears.  Unfortunately sore, itchy ears invite probing fingers.
  • Damage to the lining of the ear from pen lids, fingernails and other objects inserted in sore ears
  • Warm soapy, perfumed bath water
  • Sea water (full of bacteria)


  • Avoid worsening factors.  Wear ear plugs in the bath, shower and sea.
  • Ear drops containing a combination of medications. These include antibiotics such as gentamicin, antifungals such as acetic acid (vinegar) and steroids.  More information on this condition is available here.


March 6, 2017

Swimmer's ear consist of soreness, flaking and discharge from the ear.  It is particularly common in swimmers but can affect anyone, whether they swim or not.  It is often caused by water in the ears although it usually only happens if your ears are wet for a long time or get wet repeatedly.

Skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis can both make ear infections much more likely.  Inflamed broken skin is more prone to infection.  Foreign bodies such as peas and Lego are sometimes pushed into the ears.  This can stop the ear canal ventilating properly, leading to ear infection and purulent discharge.  Small children may not tell you that they have pushed something in their ear.

Sufferers of surfer's ear are at higher risk because the opening to their ear canals are narrowed so they remain wet for longer and dirt and slough tend to build up making it harder to get treatment antibiotic drops in.  Wearing a good pair of ear protectors whenever you go swimming is often enough to prevent the condition.  It also helps to rinse the ears with clean drinking water or strong alcohol after immersion.  Itching is an early sign; get a pair of ear plugs before it progresses to an infection which needs treatment.