Swimmer’s ear is an infection of the ear canal. It’s often caused by water that remains in your ear after swimming, creating a moist environment that leads to overgrowth of bacteria. The risk factors for getting swimmer’s ear include:
- Having a very narrow or hairy ear canal
- Living in a warm, humid climate
- Having little or no earwax
- Having a history of of ear infections
- Having eczema or dry skin
- Suffering from swimmer’s ear before.
Swimmer’s ear can be very painful. The pain is worse when you touch/move the earlobe or another part of the outer ear or when you chew. It hurts to lie on the affected ear. Other symptoms can include itching, a feeling of fullness in the ear, and discharge from the ear. The ear canal may be swollen and red. In severe cases, the outer ear can be red and swollen too.
No worries though! Swimmer’s ear is easily treated with antibiotic ear drops for a week. The only downside: you can’t go swimming while you are being treated.
Some tips to try and prevent swimmer’s ear:
- Shake your head after swimming to try to remove as much water as possible.
- Aim a hairdryer on low setting at your ear to evaporate the excess water.
- Mix equal amounts of vinegar and rubbing alcohol and put a couple drops in your ears after swimming. Let the drops sit for 3-5 minutes. The alcohol helps the water evaporate and the vinegar keeps the pH of the ear canal balanced.
- Over the counter drops (exact same thing as the rubbing alcohol-vinegar combo).Enjoy the summer swimming fun and if you use the tips above, then you too can “just keep swimming!”