It’s officially swimming season, and in a few weeks most kids will spend their days in and out of the pool. The reason I know this? Because they will start coming into my office with swimmer’s ear!! (also because I live with a few specimens).
Swimmer’s ear or otitis externa are painful, discharging ears, most often in kids (and elderly men for other reasons), and most common in the hot weather or when swimming. The reason for this is the bugs which cause the problems are there ALL THE TIME, but it’s when we add warmth and moisture to the damp, dark holes of our ears that they start to want to have a party of their own.
Swimmer’s ear can also lead to infections of the surrounding bone and structures in the middle ear, so it’s important to try to avoid it, or treat it as early as possible.
Once painful, see a doctor as soon as possible to start medication. All you need to mention to a doctor’s receptionist is “child + sore ear”, and they will make it happen! Of course, you should be treating promptly with pain relief. Anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen are ideal (if tolerated) to reduce swelling along with pain.
If you want to avoid them though? Make the bacteria uncomfortable by reducing the warmth and moisture as much as possible through the use of some simple techniques:
- Tissue Spears! (never cotton buds!)
- Using a rolled tissue or piece of toilet paper to gently mop out the moisture of both ears after swimming or showering is the most important protection against swimmer’s ear
For instructions on how to properly use tissue spears ask your doctor or click on the link below
- Drying agents
- Using an over the counter drop like ‘Aqua Ear’ after swimming to help dry the ear
BEWARE – if you add these drops (which contain isopropyl alcohol) to already irritated ears it is VERY painful and your child will not appreciate it! Stick to the tissue spears and see a doctor.
By Doctor Sarah Kay