How does moisture in the external auditory canal (EAC) cause otitis externa (OE)?

Updated: Mar 09, 2020
  • Author: Ariel A Waitzman, MD, FRCSC; Chief Editor: Ravindhra G Elluru, MD, PhD  more...
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Answer

If moisture is trapped in the EAC, it may cause maceration of the skin and provide a good breeding ground for bacteria. This may occur after swimming (especially in contaminated water) or bathing—hence the common lay term “swimmer’s ear.” It may also occur in hot humid weather. Obstruction of the EAC by excessive cerumen, debris, surfer’s exostosis, or a narrow and tortuous canal may also lead to infection by means of moisture retention.


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