The term external otitis (also known as otitis externa or swimmer’s ear) refers to inflammation of the external auditory canal or auricle.
There are five fundamental steps in the management of external otitis:
- Thoroughly clean the ear canal
- Treat inflammation and infection
- Control pain
- Avoid promoting factors
- Follow-up and culture recalcitrant cases (as well as consider alternative diagnoses)
Treatment of external otitis usually involves topical drug therapy rather than oral antibiotics or surgery, as the disease is limited to the skin of the ear canal.
This topic will focus on the management of external otitis. The clinical manifestations and diagnosis of external otitis are discussed elsewhere. (See "External otitis: Pathogenesis, clinical features, and diagnosis", section on 'Diagnosis'.)