Did you hear about swimmer's ear?
With the recent stretch of humid weather, lots of folks have been flocking to pools, lakes, ponds and the ocean to find relief. But for some, cooling off comes with a price – swimmer’s ear. It’s actually a fairly common problem, most often caused by germs in pools, hot tubs and other water spots. Typical symptoms include itchiness inside the ear and redness and swelling. Sometimes the infected ear can be painful if it’s being tugged (typically children pull on their ears when they hurt). Fortunately, antibiotic ear drops can treat swimmer’s ear quite effectively.
Swimmer’s ear results from water sitting in the ear canal for a long period allowing germs to grow and infect the skin. One way to prevent this is to use ear plugs or a bathing cap. After swimming, or even showering and washing one’s hair, use a towel to dry the hears and tilt the head to either side to allow water to escape. A hair dryer on the lowest heat setting can also work by holding it several inches from the ear.
What doesn’t work and shouldn’t be used are cotton swabs, paper towels, or fingers jabbing into the ear to work the water out. This only traps the water deeper into the ear canal and can trap wax against the ear drum.
If swimmer’s ear – or any painful or blocked ear symptoms – continues to be a problem, call your healthcare provider.