Have you ever had itchy ears, swelling of the ear canal, drainage or pain, especially after a joyful day of swimming? Pay attention – don’t swim again or try to wash the ear before it recovers. It might be the swimmer’s ear.
What is swimmer’s ear?
Swimmer’s ear is an infection, inflammation, or pain in the ear caused by water trapped in the ear canal. The main cause of it is a break in the skin lining of the outer ear or ear canal that allows bacteria or fungi to invade the outer ear.
Swimmer’s ear is not just for swimmers. You can get your swimmer’s ear after soaking in the pool, or you may on the dry land but get an infection in your ear.
The disease is called this name only because it’s common among swimmers, who may easily get infections.
What causes swimmer’s ear?
The break in the skin can leads to swimmer’s ear. The break may be caused by:
Improper cleaning with cotton-tipped swabs or other objects inserted in the ear
Devices inserted into the ear like earplugs, hearing aids, earphones, etc.
Chemicals into the ear like hair dyes, bleaches, certain shampoos, hair sprays, etc.
What are the symptoms?
If you have swimmer’s ear, you may have these symptoms:
Pain in the ear, which can be severe.
Itchy feeling inside the ear.
Redness in your ear.
Swelling in the ear canal.
Fluid drains out of the ear, which can be bad-smelling and yellowish.
Ringing in the ear.
Dizziness or vertigo.
What to do after getting swimmer’s ear?
You can have some home remedies to treat the swimmer’s ear. However, if you are having severe pain, swelling or dizziness, go to see a doctor for help.
Remove water from the ear. You can shake it off. If you fail to do that, go for a doctor.
Keep the ears dry. Avoid swimming or exposure to water before the condition improves.
Do not make further trauma. Don’t try to remove the drainage from the ear by inserting a cotton swab into it.
Leave out your hearing aid as much as possible.
Apply proper homemade ear drip. The ear drip is mixed of 50% rubbing alcohol. 25% white vinegar, and 25% distilled water.
Apply heat to the ear. You can reduce the pain by using a heating pad. Fold a towel in half and place it between the heating pad and ear to prevent accidental burning of the ear.
You can choose pain medicines like aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen to relieve pain.
Nonprescription ear drops are not usually strong enough to cure swimmer’s ear. However, you can use nonprescription ear drops for prevention after swimming.
If you want to cure the condition quickly, do NOT purchase ear drops from the counter. Consult your doctor for help.
Go to a doctor’s
If your condition is severe, you can go to the doctor’s for help. The doctor may help you to:
Clean the ear thoroughly.
Treat inflammation and infection.
Obtain sample of any drainage and test if any bacteria grow.
Avoid factors that may promote inflammation or infection.
Place medicine in the ear after cleaning the ear canal if there is a large amount of drainage or debris.
Give some oral pain medicines, anti-inflammatory drugs or antibiotics.
How to prevent swimmer’s ear?
It will take you about a week to recover from swimmer’s ear. But the best way is never having it. Here are some tips for preventing swimmer’s ear.
As a swimmer
The main cause of swimmer’s ear is the water trapped in your ear after swimming, which is a perfect spot for bacteria to grow.
Avoid the water into your ear
Use earplugs while swimming.
Shake or drain water from your ears, and use a clean towel to dry your ears after swimming.
Don’t swim in lakes, ponds, or rivers with lots of bacteria.
Use eardrops after swimming.
In daily life
Don’t stick stuff in your ear. Never put cotton swabs, hairpins, pen caps, pencils, your fingers or anything else into your ear canal. It can damage your skin.
Leave earwax alone. Earwax protects your ear from many intruders.
Take off your earphones. Headphones, or earphones which you stick into your ear canal can sometimes scratch the skin, leading to infections.