Acute External Otitis is an infection of the ear canal skin. This infection is most frequently caused by bacteria in water, but it can also be caused by fungus. However, the fungal variety is much less common. Acute External Otitis can be localized or a diffuse infection of the entire ear canal. The diffuse infection is typically called Swimmer’s Ear. There are some predisposing conditions for swimmer’s ear, giving the bacteria a leg up in making a home in your ear canal. Some of the predisposing conditions are using cotton swabs, allergies, decreased canal acidity from excess water in the ear, or irritants like hair spray or hair dye. The bacteria that usually cause swimmer’s ear are Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Proteus vulgaris, Staphylococcus aureus, or Escherichia coli.
External Otitis causes pain and drainage from the ear. Occasionally foul-smelling discharge and hearing loss occurs if the ear canal becomes swollen or blocked by debris. Otoscopic examination is hard to conduct and frequently causes pain to the patient. The ear canal is usually red, swollen, and littered with moist debris.