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Swimmers Ear

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Appendix A: First Aid Case and Kits, Dressings, and Bandages
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Appendix C: Common Problems/Conditions
Appendix D: Digital Pressure
Appendix E: Decontamination Procedures
Appendix F: Glossary


Introduction

Swimmer’s ear, or otitis externa, is an infection of the external ear canal. This is an infection frequently seen in swimmers, as well as SCUBA divers. It is NOT associated with water quality or bacteria in the water, but is related to water retention in the external ear, creating a warm, moist environment for bacterial growth and subsequent infections. It can be very painful. Because of the swelling, the outer ear is very tender to palpation or touch.

Swimmer's Ear Prevention

The goal after engaging in water activities is to dry the external ear. This can by performed in a variety of ways. It is usually not advisable to use a cotton-tipped applicator as that plugs the ear even more. Using a twisted up tissue to dry up the water, or using a hairdryer may be beneficial to dry the fluid in the ear after swimming.

Swimmer's Ear Treatment

Healthcare Provider - Medical Treatment
For the healthcare provider, the most common bacterial pathogen responsible for infection is P. Aeruginosa as well as S. Aureus. Frequently an infection is poly-microbial, and there are multiple organisms involved. These are the most common. The most common antimicrobial medical that is used is Cortisporin Otic, 4 drops 4x/day, for 5-7 days, and avoid swimming. This is very helpful. Many times I have used ear-wicks, which is very helpful in keeping the medication in place, or you can use cotton to prevent the medication from dripping out of the ear.

Ciprodex by Alcon is also beneficial. It helps with compliance, as dosage is only 4 drops 2x/day. Also, it is not toxic to the middle ear, especially in the case of a rupture. It is a very helpful medication in the treatment of swimmer’s ear, combined with Barotrauma, where there may be a perforated tympanic membrane.




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