My daughter had swimmer’s ear several times last summer, and swim team starts next week. Is there any way to prevent swimmer’s ear this summer?
A. Swimmer’s ear, also known as otitis externa, is an infection of the ear canal. It’s caused by bacteria in the ear canal and usually causes ear pain. After swimming, water often remains in the ear canal, and this moist environment promotes bacterial growth.
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Here are some basic prevention tips:
• Attempt to dry the ears after swimming by using a towel to remove any visible water. Lean the head from side to side to allow water to drain out of the ear canals.
• Do not put any objects down into the ear canal because they could scratch the canal and increase the risk of infection.
• Prepare a mix of equal parts rubbing alcohol and white vinegar. Infuse the ear canals with 3 mL of the solution after swimming. (Do not use if your child has ear tubes or a punctured ear drum.)
• If these prevention measures don’t work, seek medical treatment. Swimmer’s ear must be treated with antibiotic ear drops. Over-the-counter swimmer’s ear drops do not contain antibiotics and are not an effective treatment.