ENT Head & Neck Surgery Center

Rm 02, 5/F., Kai Seng Commerical Centre,
4-6 Hankow Road, TST Kln, HK
(near Kowloon Hotel)
Tel: (852) 3100 0555
Fax: (852) 3100 0556

Lawrence Chow / ENT Doctor

What is External Otitis and what can you do about it?

What is External Otitis and what can you do about it? Find out here.


Also referred to as Otitis Externa or Swimmer’s Ears, External Otitis is a type of ear infection. It typically runs from the outside of your ear into your eardrum and can cause itchiness, pain, ear blockage, swelling, and even fever.



External Otitis cases can be classified as acute, chronic, eczematous, necrotizing, or otomycosis. This means that it can range in severity and might need continuous treatment, depending on your case. It can also lead to serious complications and infections when not treated right away.



Causes of External Otitis

Typically seen in swimmers as its name suggests, External Otitis is typically caused by the bacteria known as Pseudomonas. In some cases, it can also be a fungal infection caused by Candida or Aspergillus.



No matter what the case is, however, this condition is most often the result of not being able to dry the ear thoroughly. The water that stays in the curves and crevices of the ear fosters bacterial growth.


Things get worse if you have ear injuries. This is why scratching, improper use of ear-cleaning tools, and the use of irritating products are also listed as causes of this ailment.



Aside from these causes, some people are also just more at risk of the condition than others. Aside from swimmers, those with skin sensitivities and conditions are more likely to contract the disease compared to the general populace. So if you have allergies, eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis, there’s also a chance that your condition can increase your risks of contracting External Otitis.



Signs and Symptoms

There are several signs that should clue you in about this infection. Below are a few examples of the most common symptoms arranged from mild to severe:


  • Itchiness in the ear canal
  • Mild discomfort in the ear
  • Slight redness of the ear
  • Presence of a small amount of clear, odorless fluid inside the ear
  • Increasing pain and itchiness
  • Excessive fluid drainage
  • Pus discharge
  • Partial ear canal blockage
  • Muffled hearing
  • Severe pain
  • Outer ear swelling
  • Total ear blockage
  • Fever



Preventing External Otitis

Preventing this condition isn’t impossible to do. If you’re at risk, here are a few things you can do:


  • Make sure to dry your ears properly.
  • Avoid injuring your ears by keeping foreign objects away from it.
  • Protect your ears when using hair products to avoid irritants from getting in.
  • Take precautionary measures during your swims.
    • Monitor the bacterial levels in the pool and avoid swimming on the days when the numbers are high.
    • Use preventive ear drops before getting in the water.



Treatments for External Otitis

If you suspect that you already have External Otitis, the most important thing that you should do is to see your doctor right away. They can create the right treatment plan for your diagnosis so you should seek their help right away.



In most cases, the treatment for this condition involves professional cleaning followed by the prescription of various medications for the infection. You might need to get on antibiotics and use ear drops during the treatment process.



While treating your External Otitis, however, it’s recommended to avoid swimming and scuba diving for the time being. You shouldn’t really get water in the infected area, so it’s also recommended to protect your ear when you bathe. It will also be best not to use any in-ear appliance or device until the infection heals.



If you suffer an ENT problem, it is suggested to consult an ENT Specialist for the appropriate ENT services. Please contact us for an appointment of our ENT services and consulation at 3100 0555.




HK ENT Specialist Ltd.

Hong Kong based ENT clinic centre

For ENT Services, Audiology & Speech Therapy,

Sleep Disordered Breathing Management,

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