My daughter swims year-round and has recently been getting swimmer's ear. Can these infections be prevented?
Swimmer's ear, or otitis externa, is common in kids who spend a lot of time in the water. Water can sit in the ear canal and lead to irritation and infection of the outer ear.
The good news is that outer ear infections often can be prevented. For starters, your daughter can wear a bathing cap or removable earplugs to help keep the ear canals dry. Or, after getting wet, she can tip her head to the side to let the water drain out. She also can use a hair dryer on a low setting, at least 12 inches away, to dry her ears.
If her ears still aren't drying out, talk to your doctor about using ear drops at the end of a swim to help dry up the water in her ears and prevent infection.
Your daughter should not clean her ears with cotton swabs or put any other objects (like bobby pins) in her ears, which can scratch the skin and allow bacteria or fungi to enter. Ear wax is actually good and can protect against swimmer's ear.
Swimmer's ear can be treated with antibiotics, and your daughter should stay out of the pool while she's recovering. Make sure she uses the antibiotics for as long as the doctor says to, even if she feels better sooner.
Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: April 2015
|Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The CDC (the national public health institute of the United States) promotes health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability.|
|Dealing With Earwax Earwax helps protect the eardrum and fight infection. Parents shouldn't attempt to remove earwax at home, as doing so risks damage to the ear canal and, possibly, a child's hearing.|
|Is Earwax Removal Safe? Is it OK to use cotton swabs to remove earwax?|
|Ear Injuries Ear injuries not only can affect a child's hearing, but sense of balance, too. That's because our ears also help keep us steady on our feet.|
|Swimmer's Ear (Otitis Externa) Swimmer's ear is an infection of the ear canal caused by many types of bacteria or fungi. Find out how to prevent it.|
|Eardrum Injuries A "popped" eardrum is more than just painful - it can sometimes lead to hearing loss. Learn about eardrum injuries and how to prevent them.|
|Middle Ear Infections Ear infections are common among kids and, often, painful. Find out what causes them and how they're treated.|
|Middle Ear Infections and Ear Tube Surgery Many kids get middle ear infections (otitis media). Doctors may suggest ear tube surgery for those with multiple infections or a hearing loss or speech delay.|
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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