Can Swimmer’s Ear Spread To Other People?

July 12, 2023

Have you ever had a great day at the beach that is suddenly ruined by water in your ear that just won’t come out? There is a chance this trapped water could develop into a condition called otitis externa– commonly known as swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear is a common infection that generally clears after a few days of treatment. But are you contagious during this period? Keep reading for more information about swimmer’s ear symptoms and treatments, and whether or not the infection can spread to other people.

For same-day swimmer’s ear treatment, visit the walk-in clinic at AFC Urgent Care Paramus. Our board-certified medical providers can diagnose your condition and prescribe the right medication at your convenience. Just walk-in today!

Causes and Symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear

Before explaining whether or not swimmer’s ear is contagious, it’s important to understand its causes and symptoms. Swimmer’s ear occurs when water gets trapped in the ear canal. This creates a moist environment that allows bacteria or fungi to grow. This condition often develops after swimming– hence its name. However, swimmer's ear can also develop from other sources of moisture, including sweating and humidity. The symptoms can vary in severity but typically require medical treatment.

Common swimmer’s ear symptoms include:

  • Ear pain
  • Itchiness
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Discharge
  • Difficulty hearing

Is Swimmer’s Ear Contagious?

Swimmer’s ear is not generally contagious in the way that a common cold or the flu spreads from person to person. As the condition is caused by water in the ear canal that promotes the growth of bacteria, it is likely going to be isolated to the individual who is affected. This means swimmer’s ear does not transmit to others through close contact.

However, swimmer’s ear may indirectly affect others. For example, if someone with a swimmer’s ear infection shares personal items– such as earphones or earplugs– there is a slight possibility of that bacteria being transmitted to that person. Swimmer’s ear can also develop after spending time in water that’s contaminated with fungi or bacteria, meaning that whoever comes in contact with that source of water may also develop an infection.

Swimmer’s Ear Treatment Options To Alleviate Symptoms

The most common treatment regimen for swimmer’s ear is antibiotic ear drops. These drops contain medication to kill the bacteria or fungi in the ear canal. It’s a good idea to consult a healthcare provider for a full evaluation, diagnosis, and prescription. To alleviate any additional ear pain or discomfort during the course of infection, you can take over-the-counter pain relievers. Be sure to properly clean your ears during treatment– but avoid using cotton swabs as this can damage ears further.

Visit AFC Urgent Care Paramus For Same-Day Care

If you have swimmer’s ear, visit AFC Urgent Care Paramus today. Our team can diagnose and offer treatment options for patients of all ages. AFC Paramus is open seven days a week, with walk-in visits always welcomed and most major insurance carriers accepted. Low-cost treatment is available for self-paying patients. For more information about swimmer’s ear, or other urgent care services we provide, call us directly at (201) 262-2010.

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