It’s all fun and games in the pool until someone develops swimmer’s ear. When kids spend nearly all summer in the pool, it is important to do everything you can to prevent swimmer’s ear because no one wants summer fun to be interrupted by pain.
In partnership with Florida Hospital for Children’s Kids Urgent Care, I received tips from the professionals to help your kids stay swimmer’s ear free this summer. Go ahead, let them swim all day. Just remember a few basic tips to prevent the dreaded swimmer’s ear pain.
What Is Swimmer’s Ear?
Swimmer’s ear is an infection of the outer ear canal that can occur after water is trapped in the ear canal, giving bacteria found in pool water the perfect environment to grow. In addition to being painful, swimmer’s ear can also be itchy, lead to a pus discharge and give kids a feeling of fullness inside the ear. A combo that leads to unhappy kids.
One of the telltale signs of swimmer’s ear is pain/discomfort that is made worse when pulling on the ear. As a kid whenever anyone complained of an earache, the first thing mom did was gently tug our earlobes. If the pain got worse, it was straight to the doctor for antibiotics.
How To Prevent Swimmer’s Ear
While swimmer’s ear is easily treated with antibiotics, it is best to practice prevention. The key to prevention is to dry out the ear well after swimming.
After swimming make sure there is no water left in the ear — My mom taught us to stand on one foot and hop with our head tipped to the side to help make sure any water in our ear drained. You can also help your child to gently pull their earlobes in different directions (while leaning over) to let excess water drain out.
Make sure your water is clean — If you own your own pool it is important to regularly check disinfectant and pH levels using pool test strips. Pools with a balanced pH and disinfectant level are less likely to spread germs.
If you swim at a public pool, ask the pool operator if the disinfectant and pH levels of the pool are checked at least twice a day.
Keep ears dry while swimming – If your child has trouble with water in their ears or has experienced multiple rounds of swimmer’s ear, have them wear a swim cap or ear plugs to keep their ears dry.
Ear drying drops – Over-the-counter drying drops can also help kids get water out of their ears. Or you can make your own drops with a 1:1 mixture of rubbing alcohol and white vinegar. Drip a couple of drops into your child’s ear after swimming then drain. The vinegar and alcohol help kill bacteria and dry out the ear.
Drops should never be used if there is an ear drum rupture, be sure to talk to your doctor about any concerns.
Don’t stick things in your ear – Never stick anything in your ear like a cotton swab that could potentially do more damage or push the water further into the ear.
In the event prevention doesn’t work, the good news is that swimmer’s ear is easily treated. Kids Urgent Care regularly treats kids with swimmer’s ear and can help your swimmer be back in the pool in no time. If your child is experiencing the above symptoms and might have swimmer’s ear, visit a local healthcare provider like Kids Urgent Care for treatment and get back to enjoying a pain-free summer.