October 25, 2014
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Ear Health

 Health Home >> Ear Health >> Outer ear infection 

Causes of outer ear infection

Swimming isn't the only way to get an outer ear infection. You can also be infected if hairspray or other liquids get into the ear canal. The bacteria (and occasionally fungi) that cause an outer ear infection don't necessarily live in the water. Many of them are already in the ear canal or are picked up in everyday life. However, water or other foreign liquids in the ear can provide an ideal breeding ground for them.

You can also trap bacteria in the ear by using cotton ear swabs. The skin of the ear canal slowly moves outward like a conveyor belt, carrying shed fragments of skin away from the eardrum. Pushing a cotton swab into the ear goes against this process, and causes dead skin and earwax to build up. Occasionally, scratching the ear canal can also promote infection. This tends to trap moisture in the ear. Moist skin and tissue create a friendly environment for bacteria and allow them to multiply, causing infection.

People with the following conditions get outer ear infections more easily:

  • allergies
  • diabetes mellitus
  • eczema
  • psoriasis
  • seborrheic dermatitis (in which dandruff is the most common symptom)
 
Written and reviewed by the MediResource Clinical Team 

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