The skin around the ear canal is infected when you have an ear canal infection. The ear canal runs from the auricle to the eardrum. The auricle may also be infected. An ear canal infection is often caused by damage in the ear canal, or by reduced earwax production. It’s most common in adults and is also known as swimmer's ear.
An ear canal infection may result in you suffering from:
- A painful ear canal.
- An itch.
- A burning sensation in the ear canal.
- Flaky skin around the ear canal.
- Red and swollen skin around the ear canal.
- Fluid coming from the ear.
- Pus coming from the ear.
- Scabs around and in the ear canal.
- Swollen lymph nodes. In severe cases.
You can do the following things yourself when you have an ear canal infection:
- Don’t pick or clean your ears. The fluid will drain out on its own, so your ear will clean itself.
- Bend your head forward when you wash your hair. This will prevent you from getting water or soap in your ear.
- Thoroughly dry the entrance to your ear canal and auricle after showering or swimming.
- Don’t use make-up or use other cosmetic products. This can irritate the skin.
- Use paracetamol for the pain. A maximum of two paracetamol tablets 4 times a day.
- Use ear drops. You can buy these from the chemist or pharmacy. The staff can advise you about the right product.
Do you wear hearing aids and often suffer from ear infections? Arrange to have your hearing aids checked by a hearing care professional.
An ear infection will go away on its own in most cases. However, in some cases you will need to contact your GP. You should do so if:
- You feel very unwell.
- You develop a fever.
- The symptoms don’t improve after 1 week.
- You’ve received an ear tampon from your GP and the symptoms haven’t reduced after 24 hours.
- Your lymph nodes around your ears or on your neck have become swollen.