Let’s be clear about something up front: swimmer’s ear sucks.
If you’re unfamiliar with the awful little infliction, here’s a quick roundup. Swimmer’s ear is an infection caused by germs growing in the moist environment that is the inside of your ear. If your ears don’t properly dry out, it’s an invitation for pain and suffering. The good news is that you can take some pretty simple steps to prevent swimmer’s ear in the first place. Here’s a closer look.
It may seem obvious, but perhaps the best thing you can do to prevent swimmer’s ear is to ensure your ears are clean and dry. That’s even more important if you’ve been swimming. After you swim (or bathe, for that matter), take the time to dry your ear canals thoroughly. A dry, soft towel will usually do the trick, but you can also use a blow drier on the lowest setting if necessary. Some people who spend a lot of time in the water will add a few drops of rubbing alcohol to their ears to help dry them out, too. However, if you deploy this tactic too often the insides of your ears can get too dry, which could lead to more infections.
Let’s talk about ear wax for a moment. Some people believe that diving into your ear canal with a Q-tip every day is the only way to maintain proper hygiene. However, the truth is that you need some ear wax in order to maintain proper ear health. Too much or too little wax can make your ears prone to infection.
Wearing earplugs while you’re swimming can also help prevent too much water from collecting in your ears. A good, properly fitting pair of earplugs should keep almost all water out of your ear, which will go a long way towards preventing swimmer’s ear.
Finally, appropriate ear drops can go a long way in preventing swimmer’s ear. In most cases, people will use rubbing alcohol, white vinegar, or a 50/50 combination of both. This helps keep the ear canals dry. But as we mentioned above, too much of these solutions can dry the ears out and lead to more infections. Also, if you think you might have other ear damage, such as a ruptured eardrum, never put drops in your ears. Get yourself to the doctor and get checked out first.