Outer ear infections are sometimes known as swimmer’s ear. This painful, swollen ear canal problem is common in children. If your child begins to complain of stinging, burning or itching in around his ears or if you notice him pulling, rubbing or scratching them, look closely for swelling or redness, signs of an outer ear infection.
What It Is
An outer ear infection is an infection of the skin or lining of the canal, outside the eardrum. This may be from introducing a foreign substance, scratching that delicate skin or leaving too much moisture in that area. You can recognize it by swelling, redness or oozing from that area. If you can see the infection, it’s probably an outer ear infection.
What Needs to Be Done
Basically, the infection in the outer ear and in the canal needs to be cleared up, or it will continue to fester and possibly grow. This can happen internally by allowing the body to fight the infection, as it would any other infection, or externally, by making the area uninhabitable, or at least uncomfortable, for the infection. Infections like to be at a comfortable temperature and nicely moist. Keeping moisture from the ear will help encourage the infection to dry up and leave.
What You Can Do
Give your child some pain medications if she is experiencing pain. Allow her to lie on a warm compress, with her ear toward the floor to encourage any excess fluid to drain out. Outer ear infections are sometimes caused by swimming, especially in children’s ears. Encourage children to shake the water out when they get out of the pool. You can also use a blow-dryer to gently encourage air movement in the canal to evaporate the water.
What You Shouldn’t Do
It may be tempting, but you should avoid sticking or pushing any object into the ear, including a finger. Unfortunately, outer ear infections can bring pain or itchiness. However, keep in mind that this was likely caused by introducing something foreign to the ear. Don’t risk making it worse or causing damage by shoving anything else down there.
Once It Gets Worse
If the symptoms do not get better or if they worsen, head to the doctor’s office. Ears are delicate instruments, not worth risking. He may prescribe an antibiotic drop that will heal the area even faster.