Swimmer’s Ear

Swimmers ear

Are you and your kids spending time in the water this summer?  Find out more about swimmer’s ear!

Swimmer’s ear occurs when water gets into the ear and does not properly drain.  It can happen during swimming or even bathing.  Doctor’s call it otitis externa, and it’s an inflammation of the external ear canal.  When this happens, the canal can become irritated and infected.

Children with swimmer’s ear will complain of itching or pain in the ear, particularly when the head or ear is moved.  As the canal swells, hearing will decrease, and the infected ear may ooze yellowish pus.

Your pediatrician will diagnose otitis externa after looking into the ear canal with a tool called an otoscope.  You may receive a prescription for eardrops to treat it, and sometimes you will need to insert a gauze wick into your child’s ear to make sure the drops reach the site of the swelling.    Try to keep your child’s ear canal as dry as possible during the healing process – that means delaying washing and shampooing until the inflammation has disappeared.

Once a child has had a swimmer’s ear infection, you should try to prevent future episodes.  To help avoid them, use ear drops after swimming that are made up of either a 70 percent alcohol solu­tion or a mixture of one-half alcohol, one-half white vinegar. Also, dry the ears with a towel immediately after swimming or bathing.