Whether it is your backyard swimming pool, a lake or the ocean, the warmer weather allows your family to spend more time playing in the water. For some families, however, this also means more complaints of ear pain. “Swimmer’s ear” is a term used to describe an infection in the otitis externa. While it may not be a serious or life-threatening condition, it can be very disruptive and painful – and it needs to be treated.
If you have a child who frequently gets swimmer’s ear, you may be wondering why they are so susceptible, what causes this condition, and what you can do about it? At the office of Julie M. Zweig MD, we never want your summer fun to be ruined by swimmer’s ear or any other ear condition. Let us help.
What Causes Swimmer’s Ear?
Swimmer’s ear can be caused by various factors. The most common cause of swimmer’s ear is the accumulation of water in the ear canal, which creates a moist environment that can encourage the growth of bacteria or fungi.
Other factors that can contribute to the development of swimmer’s ear include:
Scratches or abrasions in the ear canal
These can occur from inserting objects such as cotton swabs, hairpins, or other sharp objects into the ear canal, which can damage the skin lining the ear canal and make it more susceptible to infection.
Excessive cleaning of the ear
Over-cleaning or aggressive cleaning of the ear canal can also cause small tears or abrasions, leading to infection.
Humidity and heat
High humidity and heat can create an ideal environment for bacteria or fungi to grow, leading to infection.
Skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis can also make the skin lining the ear canal more prone to infection.
Trauma to the ear
Trauma to the ear, such as a blow to the ear, can also lead to swimmer’s ear.
It is important to keep your ears dry and clean to prevent swimmer’s ear. You can do this by drying your ears thoroughly after swimming or bathing, avoiding inserting objects into your ear canal, and using earplugs to protect your ears from water when swimming.
Did you know that you don’t even have to be an avid swimmer to get swimmer’s ear? In fact, you don’t have to be a swimmer at all. The anatomy of your ear canal may make you more susceptible to trapped water and frequent infections. It is important to work with a qualified ENT, such as Dr. Julie Zweig to treat your swimmer’s ear and prevent its reoccurrence throughout the summer months.
Treating and Preventing Swimmer’s Ear
Antibiotics or antibiotic drops are the most effective treatment for swimmer’s ear. You should also avoid water until you’re better. That means no swimming pools as well as no showers for a full week. When taking a bath, use cotton wool doused in petroleum jelly to help keep anything from getting into your ear.
If you or your child is prone to swimmer’s ear, take a proactive approach this summer. Consider getting custom ear plugs to prevent water from coming into the ear. In addition, avoid using Q-tips to clean the ears – your natural ear wax actually provides protection for your ear against this type of infection.
Swimmer’s Ear Doctor in Alpharetta
To learn more about swimmer’s ear or to help your child avoid this disruptive condition while at the pool this year, please contact Dr. Julie Zweig. We can provide relief from ear pain as well as prevent ear damage.