Your family just enjoyed a lovely day at the beach or by the pool, but now your child is complaining of ear pain. How can you tell if your child is experiencing swimmer’s ear?
What is Swimmer’s Ear?
When water gets trapped in the outer ear canal, it creates a moist environment, ideal for the growth of bacteria and fungi. This leads to an infection running from the eardrum to the outside of the head known as swimmer’s ear.
Although swimmer’s ear gets its name because it mostly occurs after swimming, it can also be the result of showering or taking a bath.
Symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear
An infected swimmer’s ear has redness and is usually accompanied by a feeling of warmth and dull, constant pain. Other common symptoms include:
- Fullness in the ear
- Hearing loss
- Draining fluids
Treatment Options for Swimmer’s Ear
If you suspect your child may have swimmer’s ear, there are a few at-home treatments you can try.
- To reduce inflammation: Ibuprofen
- To relieve pain: Acetaminophen or a heating pad
- To treated affected area: Over-the-counter antibiotic, Neomycin
If at-home treatments are unsuccessful, it may be time to schedule an appointment with a pediatrician in order to explore alternative treatment options. Some options your pediatrician may recommend include prescription antibiotics, steroids and acetic acid. Your doctor may also perform a thorough ear cleaning or suggest extra strength ear drops.
Can Swimmer’s Ear Be Prevented?
If the proper precautions are taken, it is possible to prevent a swimmer’s ear infection. To ensure an infection is avoided, follow these tips:
- Wear earplugs while swimming may help prevent water from entering the ear canal
- Ear drops may be used after swimming to aid in drying out the ear canal
- Avoid putting objects in the ear that may break the skin and lead to an infection
- Never use cotton swabs to remove ear wax
- Thoroughly dry ears after swimming or showering