Don't listen to the idiots here that tell you to remove the wax from your ear!
Swimmer's ear can be caused by several things, but primarily is caused by the LACK of ear wax in your ear. Water and excessive moisture wash away the ear canal's protective skin and earwax barrier and create a medium for bacterial growth. Surprisingly, using cotton-tip applicators to clean the ears is the leading cause of Swimmer's Ear. A few twists with an applicator is all that it takes to rub away the protective skin and earwax in the canal. Swimmer's ear is occasionally associated with middle ear infection (otitis media) or upper respiratory infections such as colds. Moisture in the ear predisposes the ear to infection from fungus or water-loving bacteria such as Pseudomonas species.
There is an acidic coating on the ear canal that contains lysozymes and other substances that inhibit bacterial and fungal growth. Water elevates the pH in the ear canal, washes away the ear wax, allowing keratin debris to absorb the water and creates a great medium for bacterial growth. Normally, the tympanic membrane (ear drum) creates an epithelial migration in an outward direction carrying any debris with it protecting the ear drum.
Swimmerâ€™s ear infection is due to either a bacterial infection of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, or Proteus bulgaris. These bacteria are very common in the environment. Chlorine does not kill these bacteria in the quantities used in swimming pool concentrations.
Candida Alibicans and Aspergillus are two fungus that can cause swimmerâ€™s ear. Chlorine does not kill these fungus in pools, either.
To determine which of the above is causing the swimmerâ€™s ear, Acute Bacterial Infection has a scant white mucus, but occasionally thick. Chronic Bacterial Infection is characterized by bloody discharge, especially in the presence of granulation tissue. Fungal Infection is characterized by fluffy and white to off-white discharge, but may be black, gray, bluish-green or yellow.
The most common cause is bacterial infection, but fungal overgrowth is a principal cause in about 10% of all cases. Of the fungal infections, Aspergillus is found in about 80% - 90% of all cases and the other 10% is usually Candida Albicans.
Classically, fungal infection is the result of prolonged treatment of bacterial swimmerâ€™s ear that alters the flora of the ear canal. Mixed bacterial and fungal infections are thus common.
There are some other causes that can cause swimmerâ€™s ear that include atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, acne and lupus erythematosus.
The rubbing alcohol you have been using should be mixed with a little white vinegar (acetic acid) to lower the pH. If you donâ€™t lower the pH, the rubbing alcohol will only dry out the ear and not counter the affect the water has on the ear of raising the pH allowing germs to grow. Also, you can go to the drug store or health food store and purchase some Aqua Ear, Ear magic, or Swim Ear to help alleviate some of the discomfort you are experiencing.
A really wonderful herbal mixture for this problem I highly suggest you try is Mullein oil mixed in olive oil is used as earache drops. This mixture has analgesic, antihistaminic, antiinflammatory, anticancer, antioxidant, antiviral, bacteristat, cardiodepressant, estrogenic, antifungicide, hypnotic, and sedative qualities.
As a pool professional, I used to put a chemical in the water sufficient to create suds when you swished your hand in the water (about 4 ounces) of 80% concentrated 2,4 n-butyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride. This chemical is used as a quaternary ammonium algaecide. This prevented the swimmerâ€™s ear because it was capable of killing the bacteria & fungus that chlorine didnâ€™t.
Bottom line is to keep the ears dry, use the MIXTURE of acetic acid and rubbing alcohol, and if you get the swimmerâ€™s ear, keep your ears dry and out of moisture for at least 3 weeks to allow the ear a chance to heal, and you can also use a mixture of 2 drops Carvacol (wild oregano) and 2 drops of Lemonine mixed in some olive oil as ear drops to kill the infection and relieve the pain. You can purchase this at: www.healthline.cc (not .com).
Good luck to you.