What’s Going Around: Swimmer’s ear, walking pneumonia, strep throat


WellSpan Pediatric Medicine Physicians across Central Pa. are reporting several bug bites, poison ivy, and all sorts of rashes, including heat rashes and sunburns. They are still seeing an occasional upper respiratory infection, but a lot of that has settled down for the summer.

UPMC Pinnacle in Camp Hill is seeing more swimmers ear this week.

“This is an infection in the ear canal that is often triggered by water in the ear from swimming,” Dr. Kathleen Zimmerman said. “The water allows bacteria to grow and the skin of the ear canal becomes infected causing pain, redness and swelling of the ear canal. Sometimes the pain is only noticeable when you push on the outside of the ear but as the infection worsens you will see swelling of the opening to the ear canal and a white drainage or debris in the canal. If the infection worsens you may even develop a fever or pain down to the jaw.”

There are ear drops over the counter that are meant to prevent swimmers ear, but these drops do not treat an infection. If you are having ear pain, swelling, or draining you should see your medical provider as a prescription antibiotic drop could be needed.

Prevention of swimmers ear is keeping the ear canal dry. After swimming, dry the ear out with a towel and there may be benefit from using a few drops of rubbing alcohol or the over the counter drops after every swim to help dry the water out that is left behind.

Geisinger Holy Spirit Pediatrics in Cumberland and Dauphin counties reports seasonal allergies this week.

Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health Physicians Roseville Pediatrics saw an increase in atypical “walking” pneumonia in older kids and teens, and an increase in hand, foot and mouth disease in toddlers and infants.

Strep throat stayed steady this week. They continued to see inner ear infections and now more swimmer’s ear cases.

With camps in session, they have also seen an increase in sunburn cases, as well as cases of the rash called molluscum.

Dr. Joan Thode offered the following advice about sunscreen:

“It’s important to remember that even on cloudy days, there is a risk for sun exposure and burns. Sunscreen should be applied even in the morning and later afternoon.

Sunscreen should be applied 15 to 30 minutes prior to sun exposure to allow it to fully sink into the skin. It should be reapplied every two hours, or sooner if after swimming or extreme sweating.

It’s important for your sunscreen to have both UV-A and UV-B protection listed on the label. The next thing to consider is SPF, or “sun protection factor,” a measurement of a product’s UV-blocking ability in a specific time frame. The higher the number, the greater the protection. The minimum SPF, especially for children, should be 30. Keep in mind that the protection number is only accurate if the sunscreen is applied liberally to the skin.

Most sunscreens are made with specific molecules that are designed to sink into the skin and absorb UV rays before the rays have access to the DNA. Babies younger than 6 months have more absorptive skin at baseline and therefore should instead use only physical barrier sunscreen with a zinc oxide or titanium dioxide base that will refract rather than absorb harmful rays.

Sunburns come in a variety of forms, from first-degree burns (the widespread pink or red skin that is painful and later peels) to second-degree burns (that cause blistering within the skin layers with increased pain and increased risk for infection and scarring).”

The CVS MinuteClinic in Lancaster reported the following this week:

“With summer swimming and heat we are seeing some cases of infective swimmer’s ear. Symptoms can include pain on the outside of the ear, discharge, and pain. Treatment can include drops for pain/swelling/infection. Keep ears dry and use over-the-counter pain relievers as needed.

A sore throat has been a common complaint. Various causes we have seen include viral (a cold), allergy induced and bacterial (strep). A sore throat with an absence of cold symptoms, a fever, headache and swollen glands should be evaluated to rule out strep throat. A rapid test is available with results in minutes. A lab test is sometimes ordered to confirm the rapid result if a high suspicion it could be a false negative. Over-the-counter treatments to relieve discomfort include gargles, lozenges and Tylenol/Advil.

We have seen an increase in pink eye in the clinic. Patients have reported recent travel and exposure to children as contributing factors. Symptoms include waking with a crusted shut eye, redness, tearing, irritation and drainage. Treatment requires an antibiotic eye drop and avoidance of school or work x 24 hours until the end of the contagious period.”

–Submitted by Jessica Myers, MSN, CRNP, FNP-BC

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