The primary symptom of otitis externa is ear pain, which can be severe and gets worse when the outer part of the ear is pulled or pressed on. It also may be painful for someone with otitis externa to chew. Sometimes the ear canal itches before the pain begins.
Swelling of the ear canal might make a child complain of a full or uncomfortable feeling in the ear. The outer ear may become reddened or swollen, and lymph nodes around the ear can become enlarged and tender. Some discharge from the ear canal is possible; it might be clear at first and then turn cloudy, yellowish, and pus-like. Hearing might be temporarily affected if pus and debris or swelling of the canal blocks the passage of sound into the ear. Fever isn't common in most cases, and otitis externa is not contagious.