The main symptoms of an outer ear infection are severe pain, itching, or redness in the ear and tenderness in the earlobes. There may also be a feeling of fullness inside the ear.

The tissue in front of and below the ear may become swollen and tender. There's often a lot of earwax and skin debris in the ear canal. More severe bacterial infection sometimes causes yellowish pus to drain out. This may have an unpleasant smell. Fungal infections can create a grey-white pus.

Pus, wax, and skin debris may block sound waves from reaching the eardrum, causing temporary reduced hearing. This isn't a sign of ear damage.

Complications of outer ear infections are extremely rare, except in people with diabetes or with weakened immune systems. When severe infections spread into the surrounding bone, this is called malignant otitis externa.

Written and reviewed by the MediResource Clinical Team