Swimmers ear is a common occurrence among children in the summer. Otitis externa, or swimmer’s ear, is an inflammation of the external ear canal. The condition occurs when water gets into the ear and does not properly drain. When the canal becomes infected and irritated, the ear will become itchy and painful to the touch. As the canal swells, minor temporary hearing loss can occur and a yellow pus may also ooze from the ear.
The lining of the outer ear contains glands that produce an acidic, waxy coating that repels water and kills bacteria. However, frequent swimming can wash away the protective coating, leaving the ear more prone to infection.
Using an otoscope, your doctor will examine the ear and most likely treat the problem with prescription drops. During the healing process you will want to keep the ear as dry as possible. In most cases, the infection is cleared within 4 to 7 days.
To prevent future episodes of swimmer’s ear, remove water from the ear after swimming. To do so, have your child tilt their head to one side and gently shake their head to help the water drain. You can also roll a little tissue or cotton ball and place in the ear to help absorb any remaining water. Mixing a solution of equal parts rubbing alcohol and white vinegar and placing a few drops in the ear after swimming can help to dry the ear and prevent infection.
If your child is suffering from swimmers ear this summer, the staff of NiteOwl Pediatrics is here to help. Our convenient location, extend hours and pediatric urgent care specialty make us the perfect choice for children.