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Otitis Externa

Our clinic is located in the heart of the Kuta area and is within the reach of the tourist areas of Seminyak and Nusa Dua.

Tropical Diseases

Otitis Externa

by Danendra Dhanny, MD

Otitis Externa

Otitis externa is a condition that causes redness and swelling of the external ear canal, which is the tube between the outer ear and eardrum. Otitis externa is often referred to as "swimmer's ear" because it is more vulnerable to inflammation.

Symptoms of otitis externa include:

  • Ear pain, which can be severe
  • Itchiness in the ear canal
  • Discharge of liquid or pus from the ear
  • Some degree of temporary hearing loss
  • Usually only one ear is affected.

With treatment, these symptoms should be clear within a few days. However, some cases can persist for several months or longer.

What causes otitis externa?

Most cases of otitis externa are caused by a bacterial infection, although the condition can also be caused by:

  • Irritation
  • Fungal infections
  • Allergies


There are a number of things that can make you more likely to develop otitis externa, including:

  • scratch the skin inside your ear
  • regularly getting water in your ear

Getting water in your ear is particularly significant, because this can cause you to scratch inside your ear, and the moisture also provides an ideal environment for bacteria to grow.


How otitis externa is treated

Sometimes gets better without treatment, but it can take several weeks. Your GP can prescribe the ear drop medication that improves the symptoms within a few days. There are several different types of ear drops that may be used to treat otitis externa, but they all tend to be used several times a day for about a week. Your GP may refer you to a specialist for further treatment and advice if symptoms are severe or they fail to respond to treatment.

Preventing otitis externa

To help reduce your chances of developing otitis externa, you should avoid cotton wool insertion into your ears (including your fingers), as this can damage the sensitive skin in your ear canal. If you 're a regular swimmer, consider using ear plugs when swimming to cover your ears and protect them from water. You should also try to avoid getting water, soap or shampoo into your ears when you have a shower or bath.


Complications of otitis externa are uncommon, but some can be very serious. One rare complication of otitis externa is malignant otitis externa, which is where infection spreads from the ear canal into the surrounding bone. This requires prompt treatment with antibiotics and sometimes surgery, as it can be fatal if left untreated.


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