Swimmer's Ear

Swimmer's Ear


Swimmer's Ear doesn/t have to be debilitating.  Most cases if caught early enough can be swum right on through.  But you have to be disciplined and diligent in your care.

Swimmer's ear is a fungus in the ear.  Fungi like dark, warm, wet environments.  The ear is perfect if it stays wet after swimming.  Usually swimmer's ear is caused by debris build-up in the ear-- little pieces of wax, soap particles, dirt, etc.

If you are prone to swimmer's ear, you can usually do very well following this procedure:  Bring a mixture of 91% isopropel alcohol (3/4) and white vinegar (1/4) and use at the end of practice or lessons.   The alcohol does a good job of drying it and the vinegar changes the pH to make it incompatible with fungus.

If you already have swimmer's ear, then you need a steroidal prescrition to fight the fungus-- see a doctor.  But still follow the above steps and then blow it out with a hair dryer at home to make sure it is completely dry.  Do not put drops in when ear is wet--this traps the very moisture that is feeding the fungus.  Only when completely dry should you use whatever medicine the doctor has prescribed for you.

Do the same after a shower-- don't forget that's moisture too

My experience has been that after a day or two out of the water to let the medication begin to reverse the trend, I can safely swim so long as I immediately put alcohol+vinegar in my ear upon finished and then using the hair dryer at home to be sure-- and then re-applying the steroidal med.  This is especially true if you get it cleaned out by an ENT.  DO NOT wait until you get home to use the alcohol+vinegar.

As prevention, before you swim, you can use 3/4 glycerin, 1/4 vinegar to coat the ear.  The glycerin also absorbs moisture.  This is especially good because if you are using alcohol and vinegar after swimming, the alcohol dries out and cracks the wax which protects ear.  This lays that protective coating back down.  (you can find glycerin at Publix or CVS)

Finally, if your swimmer's ear comes back-- go to an ENT and have them clean out your ear.  Remember most cases are caused by debris holding the water after you swim/shower.  Only by getting rid of the debris can you address the underlying cause of swimmer's ear. 

You can also try the ear cleaning kits you see at the drug store-- the bulb syringe along with peroxide and warm water, but that doesn't work for eveyone.