Infections of the outer ear, ear canal and pinna are common, particularly affecting children. They tend to cause redness, soreness, itching, watery discharge and muffled hearing from the build-up of skin slough in the canal. The debris becomes water-logged making it difficult to clear. This contributes to the hearing loss as well as prolonging the infection. Water-logging can be prevented by using molded ear plugs.
Common causes of infections include eczema or psoriasis in the ear. Foreign bodies such as peas or beads pushed into the ear and swimming frequently or for a long time can also lead to the problem. Molded swimming ear plugs will prevent this.
Dirty seawater, chlorinated swimming pool water and soapy baths all irritate the ear canal. They soften the delicate skin lining it and making infection more likely.
You can prevent the swimmer's ear condition by reducing exposure to the risk factors. Rinse out your ears with clean water or alcohol after they have been immersed in the pool or sea. This can remove and kill the bacteria which could cause a problem if left in situ in your ears.
Some people are more prone to ear infections. This may be due to diabetes, repeatedly sticking their fingers in their ears or just simply because of the way they are made.