For many kids, the start of swimming season can also mean beginning the summer suffering from swimmer’s ear. But there are ways to help prevent this painful infection of the ear canal.
Frequent swimmers are especially prone to swimmer’s ear, as it is usually caused by a form of bacteria that thrives in overly moist ear canals, the result of frequent dips in the pool. Though easily treatable, it must be taken care of promptly before it progresses into a more serious infection, so be sure to listen to your kids when they complain of ear discomfort or an itching sensation and contact your doctor immediately.
Take the following five steps to prevent an uncomfortable swimmer’s ear infection this summer.
• Children who are especially prone to ear infections should avoid swimming in lakes and ponds (or at least wear earplugs), as they contain higher levels of swimmer’s ear-causing bacteria than chlorinated swimming pools.
• When it comes to cleaning ears, avoid poking into the ear with a cotton swab. Kids’ ears tend to be self-cleaning, so simply clean the outer ear with a swab or soft cloth. Earwax serves a purpose: it protects our ears from damaging bacteria.
• Use earplugs when swimming. Check out www.earplugstore.com for a wide selection.
• Lightly dry your hair and your ears with a blow-dryer after a swim.
• After swimming, fill a dropper with a one part white vinegar, one part rubbing alcohol mixture. Place two to three drops in each ear to encourage water evaporation in the canal. Consult your doctor before using any type of ear drop if your child already has an ear infection, a hole in the eardrum, prior ear surgery or ear tubes.