A doctor will check to see if pulling the earlobe gently or pushing the tragus,
the small flap of ear just in front of the canal opening, causes pain. If
these symptoms are present, you can be pretty sure it's an external infection
and not otitis media. The doctor can often make the diagnosis simply by looking
in the ear with an otoscope (an instrument for examining the ear).
A lab culture may be ordered to identify the particular organism only if the
first treatment recommended by the doctor doesn't seem to be working.
For most outer ear infections, your doctor will prescribe an eardrop that
contains a combination of:
- an acidic solution to make the ear canal a less
favourable environment for bacteria to grow
- a steroid to reduce swelling and inflammation
- an antibiotic or antifungal
Your doctor will first clear the debris out of the ear canal. In severe
cases, if the canal is partly closed by inflammation, a wick can be inserted to
draw the eardrops in. The wick expands and holds the medication close to the
infected area in the ear. When using eardrops, warm them to body temperature by
holding the container in your hand for a few minutes before putting the drops
For severe infections, antibiotics taken by mouth will be prescribed.
Treatment of malignant otitis externa requires several weeks of antibiotics
given into a vein.
To help ease the pain associated with an outer ear infection, pain relievers
such as acetaminophen*, ibuprofen, or naproxen can be used. Talk to your
pharmacist or doctor about which pain medication is best for you.
While you are being treated for an outer ear infection, don't swim or fly
and keep water out of your ear.
To help prevent outer ear infections, it's always a good idea to dry the
ears thoroughly after showering or swimming. You can use a hair dryer set on
the lowest setting. Never direct a shower jet directly into the ear canal.
Also, don't use cotton swabs to clean or dry the ear canal. To prevent outer
ear infections due to swimming, wear a swimming cap or use over-the-counter ear
drops with acetic acid or alcohol after swimming. Avoid ear plugs, as they actually
can increase the risk of outer ear infections. If you or your child get
recurrent infections, or if these preventative measures do not work, contact
*All medications have both common (generic) and brand names. The brand name is what a specific manufacturer calls the product (e.g., Tylenol®). The common name is the medical name for the medication (e.g., acetaminophen). A medication may have many brand names, but only one common name. This article lists medications by their common names. For information on a given medication, check our Drug Information database. For more information on brand names, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2017. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/condition/getcondition/Outer-Ear-Infection