How Should Swimmer's Ear (Acute Otitis Externa) Be Managed?

Judith S. Lynch, MS, MA, APRN-BC


July 01, 2011

In This Article

Prevention of AOE

  • Keep ears as dry as possible. Using a low-volume hair dryer after a shower is helpful but it must be held a foot away from the ear to prevent burning.

  • Avoid foreign objects in ears. Cotton-tipped swabs are a leading cause of AOE and should never be used in the ear canal.

  • Protect ears from irritants such as hair dyes and hairspray.

  • For patients with chronic OE, custom ear molds can be made by audiologists to protect ears from frequent water exposure.

AOE: More Than a Nuisance

AOE is often described as a "nuisance" but only by those who have never experienced its pain. Rapid diagnosis and treatment are necessary to prevent escalating infection and to treat severe discomfort. Prevention measures are essential to keep this common health problem from becoming a greater burden to the healthcare system.


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