10 Effective Strategies to Prevent and Treat Swimmer’s Ear
10 Effective Strategies to Prevent and Treat Swimmer’s Ear

10 Effective Strategies to Prevent and Treat Swimmer’s Ear

Are you tired of the discomfort and pain caused by swimmer’s ear? Learn how to keep this common ear infection at bay with these 10 expert-backed strategies.

Swimming is a delightful and refreshing activity that millions of people enjoy every year. However, one downside to spending time in the water is the potential for ear infections, particularly swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear, also known as otitis externa, is a painful condition that occurs when water becomes trapped in the ear canal, providing an ideal environment for bacteria and fungi to thrive. Fortunately, there are effective ways to prevent and treat swimmer’s ear, ensuring that you can continue to enjoy the water without discomfort or worry. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore 10 strategies to help you keep swimmer’s ear at bay and manage it effectively if it does occur.

Understanding Swimmer’s Ear

Before delving into prevention and treatment strategies, it’s crucial to understand what swimmer’s ear is and how it differs from other ear conditions. Swimmer’s ear is an infection that affects the outer ear canal, which is the part of the ear that runs from the external ear to the eardrum. Unlike middle ear infections, which typically occur in children, swimmer’s ear primarily affects teens and adults. The infection is often caused by bacteria or fungi that multiply when water becomes trapped in the ear canal.

Common symptoms of swimmer’s ear include:

  • Ear pain: Swimmer’s ear can cause intense pain, especially when the outer ear is touched or pulled.
  • Itching: Itching inside the ear canal is a common early sign of swimmer’s ear.
  • Redness and swelling: The ear canal may become red, swollen, and inflamed.
  • Drainage: In some cases, fluid or pus may drain from the ear.
  • Hearing loss: Temporary hearing loss is possible due to the inflammation and blockage in the ear canal.
  • Tinnitus: Some individuals may experience ringing or buzzing sounds in the affected ear.

Now that you have a better understanding of swimmer’s ear, let’s explore the 10 strategies to prevent and treat this common condition.

Prevention Strategies

1. Keep Ears Dry

The most effective way to prevent swimmer’s ear is to keep your ears dry. After swimming or showering, gently tilt your head to each side to help water drain out of your ears. You can also use a soft, absorbent towel to pat your ears dry. Avoid inserting cotton swabs or any objects into your ears, as this can push water further into the ear canal and increase the risk of infection.

2. Use Earplugs

Invest in high-quality, waterproof earplugs designed for swimming. These earplugs create a barrier that prevents water from entering the ear canal. Ensure that the earplugs fit snugly but comfortably to provide the best protection.

3. Swim Smart

Be mindful of where you swim and the water conditions. Avoid swimming in polluted water, as it increases the risk of infection. Additionally, be cautious when swimming in cold water, as it can cause ear canal constriction, trapping water and promoting infection. Always swim in clean, well-maintained pools or natural bodies of water.

4. Dry Your Ears Thoroughly

After swimming, use a hairdryer on the lowest heat setting to gently dry your ears. Hold the dryer at least a foot away from your ear and move it around to ensure all moisture is removed. Be cautious not to use high heat, as it can damage the delicate skin of the ear canal.

5. Avoid Ear Irritants

Steer clear of products that can irritate the ear canal, such as hair sprays, hair dyes, or excessive use of earphones and headphones. These products can introduce bacteria and irritants into the ear, making it more susceptible to infection.

Treatment Strategies

6. Consult a Healthcare Professional

If you suspect you have swimmer’s ear or experience severe ear pain, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional promptly. A doctor can diagnose the condition and recommend appropriate treatment, which may include prescription ear drops, antibiotics, or antifungal medications.

7. Use Over-the-Counter Ear Drops

For mild cases of swimmer’s ear, over-the-counter ear drops can be effective. These drops typically contain alcohol to help dry out the ear canal and acetic acid to create an unfavorable environment for bacteria and fungi. Follow the instructions on the product label carefully.

8. Keep Ears Dry During Treatment

While undergoing treatment for swimmer’s ear, it’s crucial to continue keeping your ears dry. Use a waterproof earplug in the unaffected ear when showering or swimming. Avoid submerging your head in water and use a shower cap if necessary.

9. Complete the Full Course of Medication

If a healthcare professional prescribes antibiotics or antifungal medication, make sure to complete the full course, even if your symptoms improve before the medication is finished. Incomplete treatment can lead to a recurrence of the infection.

10. Prevent Recurrence

Once you’ve successfully treated swimmer’s ear, take steps to prevent it from returning. Follow the prevention strategies mentioned earlier, such as using earplugs, keeping your ears dry, and avoiding ear irritants. Regularly clean and maintain your earplugs to ensure they provide adequate protection.

When to Seek Medical Attention

While most cases of swimmer’s ear can be effectively managed at home, there are instances when it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention. Consult a healthcare professional if you experience:

  • Severe ear pain that worsens or persists
  • Fever
  • Drainage of pus or blood from the ear
  • Hearing loss that does not improve after treatment
  • Swelling of the ear or surrounding areas


Swimmer’s ear can be a painful and uncomfortable condition, but with the right prevention and treatment strategies, you can enjoy the water worry-free. Remember to keep your ears dry, use protective earplugs, and practice good ear hygiene to minimize the risk of swimmer’s ear. If you do develop symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention for prompt and effective treatment. By following these 10 strategies, you can make the most of your time in the water without the fear of swimmer’s ear spoiling your fun.

Don’t let swimmer’s ear dampen your aquatic adventures. Follow these 10 strategies to enjoy the water while keeping your ears healthy and infection-free.