What Is Swimmer’s Ear and How Can You Prevent It?

What Is Swimmer's Ear and How Can You Prevent It?

Swimmers spend more time in the water than the rest of us, making them prone to certain ailments. One of the most common conditions afflicting swimmers is swimmer’s ear, also known as otitis externa.

Swimmer’s ear is a painful infection that occurs in the outer ear canal. It’s usually caused by water that stays in the ear after swimming; the moist environment makes it prime for the growth of bacteria. Frequently placing cotton swabs, fingers or other objects in the ear also contributes to swimmer’s ear since it damages the fragile layer of skin located in the ear canal.

Eardrops are usually prescribed to treat swimmer’s ear, but it can also be prevented.

How To Prevent Swimmer’s Ear

  1. Dry both ears thoroughly after swimming and keep them clean. As soon as you get out of the pool, tilt your head to one side until all the excess water flows out; repeat this step with the other ear. If you already had problems with swimmer’s ear in the past, put a few drops of rubbing alcohol in the ears after swimming. However, don’t do this too often or you run the risk of drying out the skin in your ear canal, which can make your ear prone to more infections.
  1. Keep your earwax in check. Too much or too little of it can lead to ear infections. Don’t do ear candling or other improper cleaning methods, which only damage the ear canal and cause an infection.
  1. Use earplugs at all times while swimming. Earplugs are effective in keeping water out of your ears; it’s the best tool for preventing swimmer’s ear. Make sure that your earplugs fit properly and that you choose the right kind designed for keeping water out. Don’t confuse it with other kinds of earplugs such as the foam variety, which are used to equalize ear pressure and keep noise at bay.
  1. Take care of the skin inside your ear canal. If it is impaired, has cracks or is too dry, this can lead to infections. Skin conditions such as eczema, seborrhea or allergies will also make you more prone to swimmer’s ear. These conditions should be treated by a doctor to keep your chances of developing swimmer’s ear at bay. If you have dry skin, you can use a drop of olive oil to help lubricate the skin inside the ear canal.