Kids health

Ask Dr. Dina: Is there a way to prevent ear infections caused by swimming?

Ear infections are no fun. Our in-house paediatrician shares tips on how to prevent your kid from getting swimmer's ear this summer.

Photo: iStockphoto

Why does my kid always get ear infections from swimming? Is there a way to prevent them? 

Swimming is a great way for kids to stay active and cool in the summer. But with swimming sometimes comes swimmer’s ear, or external otitis—a bacterial infection of the skin of the outer ear canal. Kids with swimmer’s ear will experience itchy or sore ears, pus or blood draining from the ear, fever and even temporary hearing loss. Though it can be scary and uncomfortable, it’s not serious.

Most cases involve recent water exposure from swimming or water sports. Water collects in the ear canal and acts as a breeding ground for bacteria. Minor cuts in the skin from a cotton swab or fingernail can make the ear vulnerable to bacterial colonization. To prevent swimmer’s ear, ensure kids shake the water out of their ears after swimming and don’t use cotton swabs. You can also drop hydrogen peroxide (diluted with equal parts water), Burow’s solution (an aluminum acetate solution with antibacterial properties), swimmer’s ear drops or diluted vinegar into the ear after swimming. To treat swimmer’s ear, your kid’s doctor will prescribe antibiotic drops that kill the bacteria. They often contain a mild steroid to calm inflammation, speed healing and decrease pain.

Read more:
5 fun and easy games that teach your kids how to swim
How to keep kids safe at wading pools and splash pads
Ask Dr. Dina: What’s the best way to soothe a sunburn?

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