Swimmer’s Ear in Kids: What it is and How to Avoid it


It can be hard to keep kids active during the winter. As it gets colder outside, the indoor pool becomes your children’s’ favorite activity (and you can supervise from the hot tub so you don’t mind it either). Unfortunately, as your daughter perfects her freestyle, she also starts complaining that her ears are itchy, red, and sore. People of all ages can get Swimmer’s Ear, but it’s most common in children, especially those who are avid or competitive swimmers. Removing water from your ears by cleaning and drying them after swimming can reduce your child’s risk of Swimmer’s Ear.

What is Swimmer’s Ear?

Swimmer’s Ear, or otitis externa is a type of ear infection. This infection is different than the ear infection your child might have when he gets sick. That type of infection is called otitis media, which is an infection of the middle ear. You can typically tell the difference between the two by gently putting your finger in your ear; pain when putting your finger in your ear is an indicator of Swimmer’s Ear. If your children are susceptible to one type of ear infection, it typically does not mean they are susceptible to both.

What causes Swimmer’s Ear?

If your children are actives swimmer, they probably spend a lot of time with their heads underwater. When you spend a lot of time with your ears in the water, water can stay in the ear canal. This creates an environment where bacteria can live and grow, causing an infection. Because of the high volume of people who use them, public pools and other shared aquatic areas are among the most common places where Swimmer’s Ear spreads. Hot tubs and pools with unbalanced or infrequently checked pH levels are also more likely to cause Swimmer’s Ear because they foster environments where bacteria can grow. Though less likely, it can also be caused by frequent bathing and showering, especially in water with high levels of bacteria.

What are some common symptoms?

Some indicators of Swimmer’s Ear include soreness or discomfort in or near the ears, unusual swelling, heat, difficulty hearing, pain or tenderness when touching or putting pressure on the ears, and liquid or pus coming out of the inner ear. Other common symptoms include intense itching, dry and flaky skin, and chafing inside the ears. In severe cases, Swimmer’s Ear can also cause fever and complete blockage of the ear canal. 

How can I prevent my children from getting it? How do you get water out of your ears?

The most effective way to prevent Swimmer’s Ear is keeping your kids’ ears dry. If their ear canals are dry, bacteria cannot grow or cause infection. Prevention can happen before, during and after swimming. Bathing caps, ear covers, and ear plugs can be used to keep ears dry in the pool. Towel drying, tilting your head to a different angle, and using ear drying products after swimming greatly reduce chances of Swimmer’s Ear. Preventative drops can also be used before entering the pool, to reduce your child’s risk. Tell your children to avoid putting anything in their ears, as that can also make them susceptible.  

How is it treated?

Though often curable with home remedies, if you think your child has Swimmer’s Ear, you should consult your pediatrician. Physicians often suggest homecare treatment, prescribe antibacterial and anti-fungal medications, and recommend drops to reduce discomfort.

At acQuaMD, we don’t want ear pain slowing your family down. Our products are great for removing water, and maintaining ear cleanliness to combat health problems. We’d love to help you and your family feel happy and healthy, so please visit our website to learn more about our ear cleaning solutions.