Featured Local Business

Most Read: Wellness

Are Your Kids Caffeinated?

Find out why caffeine and kids don’t mix. Read more

Chatting About Online Safety

Nowadays kids of all ages are connecting with friends and fa... Read more

Why Manners Matter

Start your children on the right foot by teaching them manne... Read more

Why Yoga is Good for Kids

Little Cecilia Kocan, age 5, sat perfectly still, meditating... Read more

Nuts About Nuts

Holiday vacation time is approaching, and I already feel lik... Read more

Family + Sports = Fun

Fitness starts early—from a child’s first steps! When Mom an... Read more

The Dirt on Dirt

“Don’t track mud in the house!” “Wash your hands before din... Read more

Put an End to Bullying

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged ... Read more

Walking the Middle Path

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a relatively new appro... Read more

Zits for Grown-Ups

Cafeteria cliques may be a distant memory, but if you’re sti... Read more

Make Sleep a Priority

  Parents often use bedtime stories and other peaceful... Read more

Infertility Procedures

Discover the latest treatment options for infertile couples... Read more

Mediterranean Diet for Kids

It’s not just for grown-ups! Feed your kids the health... Read more

Let's Move

Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in Amer... Read more

Fitting in Fitness

When was the last time you played with your children—really ... Read more

Concerned about Fever?

One the most common reasons I see a child in my office is fo... Read more

Girls Fighting Fire

While going on nature hikes, singing songs, and roasting s&r... Read more

Bringing Home Baby

As a parent-to-be, you are probably feeling overwhelmed as y... Read more

To Cell or Not to Cell

My husband and I were sitting on the couch chatting one nigh... Read more

Eat Your Veggies!

Summer’s bounty of fresh fruit and vegetables offers a... Read more

2021 Aug

How To Treat Swimmer's Ear

Plus tips for preventing this painful condition

You just returned from vacation. Your child says, “My ear hurts.” You do not see any discharge, but it is tender to the touch. You schedule a same-day appointment with your pediatric healthcare provider, and the diagnosis is swimmer’s ear. What is swimmer’s ear?

Swimmer’s ear, or otitis externa, is a condition caused by water that remains in the outer ear canal (which runs from the outer ear to the eardrum) after swimming or bathing. Moisture in the ear canal can lead to bacterial growth. Swimming in contaminated water can also cause this.

Swimmer’s ear can be painful. It may start with mild itching and progress to more severe pain. There may be drainage from the ear or a decreased ability to hear. Wiggling the outer ear will cause pain.

If you suspect your child may have swimmer’s ear, call your pediatric healthcare provider. He will take a complete history and do a thorough physical exam. He will check for a pain response by moving the outer ear (pinna) and pushing on the bump in front of the ear (tragus). He will then examine the ear canal, which may be uncomfortable for your child. Once swimmer’s ear (otitis externa) is diagnosed, your child will need to be treated with a prescription ear drop. Use the medication as directed, generally 2-3 times daily for 7-10 days.

Sometimes the pediatric healthcare provider will need to place a wick in your child’s ear. A wick is a small piece of cotton which will lie the length of the outer ear canal, like a candle wick. It helps to distribute the liquid ear medication the entire length of the canal. It also helps to push back some of the discharge and debris which can accumulate within the canal due to this infection.

The wick will likely stay in place anywhere from a few hours to a few days and then fall out on its own. It will not bother the child, but there may be a decreased ability to hear from that ear while it is in place. Some children may feel a little dizzy when a wick is placed, so lying down for a few minutes and rising slowly may be helpful. As the ear canal is already tender, it may not be comfortable to place the wick, but the medication will soothe that area.

To place the drops in your child’s ear, have your child lie down on her side with the affected ear up. Hold the bottle so that the tip does not touch the surface of the ear, and drop the prescribed number of drops of medication into the opening of the ear canal. If a wick is present, drop the medication directly on the exposed wick, as it will distribute the medication into the ear canal. Have your child remain lying for a few minutes after placing the drops in the ear, then sit her up slowly. Do not worry if a drop runs out of the ear.

While under treatment for swimmer’s ear (otitis externa), it is important to keep your child’s ears dry. No swimming or submerging the head while bathing for 7 days after treatment begins. Showers are fine, as they do not force water into the external ear canal. Avoid use of ear buds during this time as well. Swimmer’s ear can be painful, so use of children’s acetaminophen may be helpful.

Swimmer’s ear is much easier to prevent than to treat. Keep your child’s ears dry. After swimming or bathing, tip your child’s head to each side to allow the water to run out. Dry the ears gently with a hair dryer on warm. Swim only in clean water, avoiding water with high bacteria counts.

You can prevent swimmer’s ear by placing a few drops of rubbing alcohol and vinegar in your child’s ears after each time that they swim or bathe. You can make this mixture at home by combining 1 part rubbing alcohol to 1 part white vinegar. You can also purchase a product known as swim-EAR which is an option if you do not care to make your own mixture.

With careful prevention, your child can avoid swimmer’s ear. If your child gets swimmer’s ear this summer, proper medical care will have her back in the water soon.

Melanie J. Wilhelm, DNP, CPNP

Dr. Melanie J. Wilhelm, DNP, CPNP, is a Doctor of Nursing Practice, and a Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner as well as core faculty member at Walden University. Her book, Raising Today’s Baby: Second Edition, is available on Amazon.com.

Website: www.RaisingTodaysChild.com

Enter to Win a 2-Night Getaway Package at KOA Virginia Beach Holiday

Don't miss this exclusive opportunity to win a free 2-night Deluxe Cabin stay, Adventureworks Zipline park tickets, plus a Campfire & S'mores bundle for you...

Free to Enter!