Living in Indonesia, A Site for Expatriates

Check out What's New on the Expat Web Site
Information for foreigners moving to Indonesia

Home » Practical Information » Health and Medical Concerns

Swimmers Ear/Tropical Ear

Practical Information for foreigners, expats and expatriates moving to Indonesia - find out about housing, schooling, transport, shopping and more to prepare you for your stay in Indonesia

Translate this Page

Bookmark and Share
Links to hundreds of articles giving practical information for expats moving to Indonesia
Post your questions or communicate with other expats in Indonesia on the Expat Forum
Looking for a place to stay in Indonesia - check out the Housing Forum
Looking for a weekend or holiday getaway ... visit some of Indonesia's Great Escapes
Advice and resources for conducting business in Indonesia
Info on expatriate community organizations in Indonesia
Shops, Products and Services
Links to other useful Indonesian or expat-related web sites
Expat Humor - spread the joys of Living in Indonesia through e-postcards
Site Map
Return to the Home Page
expatriate information for Indonesia

Swimmer's ear or tropical ear is an inflammation of the ear canal due to bacterial or fungal infection. In other words, they are just vernacular terms for otitis externa, an outer ear infection.

This infection can sometimes be as a result of using objects such as cotton swabs in the ear canal which irritate tissue and remove the protective wax. Infection can then develop following prolonged exposure to water from swimming or bathing. In the tropics, it is more prevalent because of the higher average temperature of water sources which are a good growth medium for bacteria/fungi. It is more prevalent in some areas because of water contamination found in rivers, estuaries, dams, or harbours where effluent may be an issue. It is also common in divers as a result of water being trapped in the ear canal.

Symptoms range from the ear feeling blocked and itchy to extreme pain, the ear canal swelling shut and purulent discharge. Lymph nodes in the neck may also become swollen. If these symptoms occur, you should consult a doctor as you may require gentle ear irrigation or suctioning of debris to cure the problem.

For people prone to swimmer's ear such as regular swimmers/divers, the disorder can be prevented by using antiseptic eardrops following any swimming or diving event. Such eardrops are inexpensive and sold without prescription under various trade names.

If your ear doctor signs off on it, you could create your own eardrops for use after swimming. Many doctors recommend using medical alcohol as a major ingredient, as it absorbs water and may even kill bacteria and fungi. Another effective ingredient is white vinegar, which should be mixed in equal proportions with alcohol. I personally have successfully used clear merthiolate as an alternative agent, though I have not seen this agent for sale in Indonesia.

For regular surface swimmers (not divers), the use of earplugs is highly recommended. I find the use of Prestik or 'ticky tack' (used for sticking pictures on the wall) a good alternative; it blocks the outer canal adequately and is also easy to remove.

If you have any further questions about medical concerns in Indonesia, see the Ask the Experts.

We trust this information will assist you in making correct choices regarding your health and welfare. However, it is not intended to be a substitute for personalized advice from your medical adviser.

Our appreciation to Dr. Paul Vandewalle of International SOS, an AEA Company who researched and contributed this article in response to an inquiry on the Expat Forum.

Housing and schooling information for expats in Indonesia expatriate website for Indonesia Indonesian language translation of article

Practical Information for foreigners, expats and expatriates moving to Indonesia - find out about housing, schooling, transport, shopping and more to prepare you for your stay in Indonesia

Practical Information |  Expat Forum |  Site Map  |  Search |  Home Page |  Contact


Return to top

Copyright © 1997-2017, Expat Web Site Association Jakarta, Indonesia http://www.expat.or.id All rights reserved. The information on Living in Indonesia, A Site for Expatriates may not be retransmitted or reproduced in any form without permission. This information has been compiled from sources which we, the Expat Web Site Association and volunteers related to this site, believe to be reliable. While reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the facts are accurate and up-to-date, opinions and commentary are fair and reasonable, we accept no responsibility for them. The information contained does not make any recommendation upon which you can rely without further personal consideration and is not an offer or a solicitation to buy any products or services from us. Opinions and statements constitute the judgment of the contributors to this web site at the time the information was written and may change without notice.