Swimmer's Ear

Water normally flows into and out of your ears without causing any problems. You can nearly always shower, bathe, swim, and walk in the rain without a problem - which is remarkable, considering how large and deep an opening your ear provides. You're protected by your ear's shape, which tips fluid out, and by its lining, which has acidic properties that protect against bacteria and fungi.

When your ear is exposed to excess moisture, however, water can remain trapped in your ear canal. The skin inside becomes soggy, diluting the acidity that normally prevents infection. A cut in the lining of the ear canal also can allow bacteria to penetrate your skin. When this happens, bacteria and fungi from contaminated water or from objects placed in your ear can grow and cause a condition called swimmer's ear (acute otitis externa, or external otitis).

Swimmer's ear is an infection of your outer ear and ear canal. It can be associated with a middle ear infection (otitis media) if the eardrum ruptures.

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