Otitis Externa (External Ear Infections, Swimmers Ear)

In general terms otitis externa (commonly called swimmers ear) is an inflammation of the skin of the auditory canal. This is usually a primary infection, but can occur as the result of

Classic features of Otitis Externa:

  • Significant pain with tenderness on manipulation of the pinna
  • Swelling of the canal and hearing loss
  • Non-mucoid discharge
  • Usually an history of water exposure and/or trauma to the skin of the ear canal.

Commonest organisms:

  • Pseudomonas aueroginosa
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Gram negative rods such as Klebsiella and E.Coli
  • Fungi are responsible for approximately 10% of cases with Aspergillus species the most prominent.

More Information

Note the severe swelling causing occlusion of the external auditory canal, with only a minimal degree of discharge seen.

Note the localised abscess formation. Whilst most OE is generalised less commonly a furuncle can form in association with a hair follicle.

Aspergillus niger otitis externa.