Swimmer's ear

  • Alternative Names

    Ear infection - outer ear - acute; Otitis externa - acute; Chronic swimmer's ear; Otitis externa - chronic; Ear infection - outer ear - chronic

    • Drainage from the ear -- yellow, yellow-green, pus-like, or foul smelling
    • Ear pain, which may get worse when you pull on the outer ear
    • Hearing loss
    • Itching of the ear or ear canal

    Signs and tests

    The doctor will perform a physical exam, which includes looking inside the ears. The ear, including the ear canal, appears red and swollen. The skin inside the ear canal may be scaly or shedding.

    Touching or moving the outer ear increases the pain. The eardrum may be difficult for the doctor to see because of a swelling in the outer ear. Or, the eardrum may have a hole in it. This is called a perforation.

    The doctor may take a sample of fluid from the ear and send it to a lab so any bacteria or fungus can be identified.