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Swimmer’s Ear

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What is Swimmer's Ear?

Swimmer's ear (also known as Otitis Externa) is an infection in the ear canal. It's often brought on by water that stays in your ear, creating a moist environment that makes bacteria grow. Swimmer’s ear will start out mild, but it can worsen if your infection spreads or isn’t treated.

Symptoms include:

  • Itching inside your ear
  • Slight redness inside your ear
  • Mild discomfort that's made worse by pulling on your outer ear or pushing on the tragus (the small, pointed part in front of the ear)
  • Drainage of clear, odorless fluid
  • Feeling of fullness inside your ear
  • Decreased or muffled hearing
  • Severe pain that might radiate to your face, neck, or side of your head
  • Redness or swelling of your outer ear
  • Swelling in the lymph nodes in your neck
  • Fever

UR Medicine's Treatments for Swimmer’s Ear

To determine the cause of the infection, your provider will examine your ear and may take a sample of discharge. They will recommend treatment to stop the infection from spreading and allow the ear canal to heal.

Treatment may include:

  • Cleaning the ear with a suction device or ear curette
  • Ear drops
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers

While receiving treatment, do not:

  • Swim
  • Wear earplugs, hearing aids, or earbuds
  • Get water in your ear while showering or bathing (We recommend using a cotton ball coated with petroleum jelly to protect your ear.)

What Sets Us Apart?

Our world-class audiologists, in association with field-leading doctors and surgeons at UR Medicine, provide patients with a complete range of services using the latest techniques and technologies.

Our ENT physicians are trained in non-surgical and surgical treatment of diseases of the ears, nose, throat, head, and neck. They perform hundreds of procedures and surgeries every year, so your care is always in the hands of well-practiced experts.

In fact, as part of the University of Rochester Medical Center, our physicians are exposed to more complex conditions and unusual complications than most physicians in the Rochester metropolitan area and surrounding region. Many of our physicians are also involved in research to find new treatments for ENT-related conditions.

All our doctors are board certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology.


Our care team is here for you. Find a UR Medicine expert and get care now.

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We serve you in the Rochester metropolitan area and surrounding region.

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6 locations

Ear, Nose, & Throat - Batavia

7995 Call Parkway, Suite 100
Batavia, NY 14020

Ear, Nose, & Throat - Geneva

64 Elizabeth Blackwell Street, Suite A
Geneva, NY 14456

Ear, Nose, & Throat - North Greece

60 Greece Center Drive, Suite 2
Rochester, NY 14612

Ear, Nose, & Throat - Brighton

Clinton Woods
2365 South Clinton Avenue, Suite 200
Rochester, NY 14618

Pediatric Otolaryngology - Rochester

Lattimore Medical Center
125 Lattimore Road, East Entrance, Suite 100
Rochester, NY 14620

Ear, Nose, & Throat - Rochester

Highland Professional Office Building
990 South Avenue, Suite 207
Rochester, NY 14620

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