PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — We’re making an Office Visit. Answering questions about topics that you want to hear about. Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl is On Your Side with more on swimmer’s ear.

2.4 million doctor visits each year are for swimmer’s ear. The painful infection can develop when water stays in the ear canal for a long time and germs develop. If the ears coating is gone, the skin can be infected. We’re checking in with Dr. Beth Duncan… from Cooper University Hospital.

We asked, “How do people get the infection?”

Dr. Duncan replied, “With the hot weather, humidity, there’s more yeast on the skin, there’s more bacteria on the skin. Sometimes the water people swim in or bathe in isn’t necessarily very clean or very pure, so you can be susceptible to getting an infection even if nothing has caused or intervened. But generally what we council our patients about is to avoid putting anything in to the ears that can scrape away the protective coating.”

Watch the video…

We asked, “How can you tell if a child has it?”

Dr. Duncan replied, “They may pull on their ear, they may tug on their ear, they may push their finger at the ear canal. If you look at the ear canal then you’ll see generally quite red skin or tissue, usually a white or watery discharge. It usually smells terrible.”

We asked, “How is it treated by a doctor?”

Dr. Duncan replied, “Suctioning all the debris away, putting alcohol drops in to the ear as long as it didn’t make the patient uncomfortable and completely getting all of the remaining water out of the ear canal.

Other ways to prevent the infection include keep your ears as dry as possible when around water, and dry them after swimming or showering.


Swimmer’s Ear Information –,, and

Reported by Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3

Top Content On CBSPhilly

Watch & Listen LIVE