One thing that can quickly ruin summertime pool fun — Swimmer’s Ear. OUCH!
Centra Care data shows that the number of Otitis Externa (a.k.a. Swimmer’s Ear) patients has been on a steady increase from week to week, and if history is correct, that trend will continue throughout the summer.
Swimmer’s Ear is a painful outer ear infection that develops when water is trapped in the ear canal. The skin lining the outer ear and ear canal serves as a protection against bacteria. As the name implies, it commonly occurs after swimming or bathing as a result of an infection that develops in the trapped water and then causes irritation. But Centra Care physicians warn that there are other ways in which it can develop. Any break in that lining can increase your risk for infection. Besides swimming, bacteria can also develop after scratching the ear canal with fingernails or cotton-tipped swabs or even irritation from the ear-buds of an MP3 player. Your earwax will protect the ear canal from drying out, so don’t make things worse by removing it.
Swimmer’s ear can cause pain, itching, swelling and redness and decreased hearing.
Here are a few tips for prevention:
- Use a blow dryer set on low to dry ears after swimming or bathing.
- Over-the-counter, alcohol-based drops to evaporate trapped water in the ear.
- Don’t put any foreign objects in your ear – that means NO earplugs. They can irritate the skin surrounding the ear canal and can cause infection. Silicon earplugs can get stuck in the canal if not used properly.
But even with preventative measures, Otitis Externa can still strike.
Head to Centra Care if you suspect that you or your child has Swimmer’s Ear. If it is bacterial in nature, you’ll probably need prescription antibiotics.