South African Family Practice

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Clinical evidence in the management of swimmer’s ear

Andre Marais


“Swimmer’s ear” or acute otitis externa is a common condition involving the exterior part of the ear, including the ear canal and the pinna. Inflammation and pain are the main features, with bacterial infection mainly due to Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. It can easily be treated in its uncomplicated stage, and the symptoms usually do not last for more than 72 hours. Management ranges from primary care to a specialist otolaringological intervention. Several nonpharmacological treatments, in addition to various pharmacological options, are employed in the treatment and prevention of swimmer’s ear. These treatments range from simple, adequate and appropriate ear cleaning, to topical antibiotics, corticosteroids and analgesics. Severe cases may require systemic antibiotics, oral anti-inflammatory drugs and even opioid analgesics.

Keywords: acidifying antiseptics, antibiotics, corticosteroids, otitis externa, swimmer’s ear

AJOL African Journals Online