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How To Prevent Swimmer's Ear: Tips For Avoiding This Common ENT Problem

Swimmer’s ear is an infection of the ear canal which can be prevented by keeping your ears dry while swimming using a bathing cap or ear plugs.

Varun Verma
Written by: Varun VermaUpdated at: May 08, 2023 16:40 IST
How To Prevent Swimmer's Ear: Tips For Avoiding This Common ENT Problem

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Swimmer's ear is a common condition that affects many people who spend time in the water. It is an infection of the ear canal skin that can extend to the outer ear as well. To know more about it, we spoke with Dr Manusrut, Consultant Ear, Neck, and Throat Surgeon, Yashoda Hospital, Somajiguda, Hyderabad

Dr Manusrut said, "Swimmer's ear occurs due to the stasis of water in the ear after a shower or swim. The moist skin creates an environment for bacteria and fungus to grow, which can cause the infection." He added, "The symptoms of a swimmer's ear include itching, ear pain, and discharge."

Preventive Measures

Here are some dos and don'ts to keep in mind, according to the expert.


Keep your ears as dry as possible: According to Dr Manusrut, the best way to prevent a swimmer's ear is to keep your ears as dry as possible. "After swimming or showering, use a soft towel to dry your ears thoroughly. Make sure to tilt your head to allow any water to escape from the ear canal," he added.

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Use a bathing cap, ear plugs, or custom-fitted swim moulds when swimming: Dr Manusrut said, "Wearing a bathing cap or ear plugs can help prevent water from entering the ear canal. Custom-fitted swim moulds are an excellent option for individuals who swim frequently or for long periods."


Don't put objects in the ear canal: This includes cotton-tip swabs, pencils, paperclips, or fingers. Dr Manusrut said, "Inserting any object into the ear canal can damage the skin, making it more susceptible to infection."

Don't try to remove earwax: Dr Manusrut said, "Earwax serves an important purpose in protecting the ear canal from infection. Attempting to remove it can damage the skin and increase your risk of developing a swimmer's ear."

Don't use over-the-counter ear drops or oils: Many over-the-counter ear drops and oils can irritate the ear canal, making it more susceptible to infection, he added. If you experience symptoms of a swimmer's ear, consult your doctor for an appropriate treatment plan.

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In addition to these preventative measures, there are a few other things you can do to reduce your risk of developing a swimmer's ear. These include:

Avoid swimming in dirty water: Swimming in contaminated water increases your risk of developing an ear infection. Avoid swimming in stagnant or dirty water, especially if you have any open wounds or cuts.

Keep your ears clean: Regularly cleaning your ears can help prevent the buildup of wax and debris that can contribute to the swimmer's ear. However, it is essential to avoid using cotton-tip swabs or other objects to clean your ears and visit a specialist only.

Avoid excessive moisture: Excessive moisture in the ear canal can promote the growth of bacteria and fungi. So, avoid spending prolonged periods in the water and make sure to dry your ears thoroughly after swimming or showering.

Expert Advice

If you do experience symptoms of a swimmer's ear, it is essential to seek medical attention promptly. Left untreated, a swimmer's ear can lead to complications such as hearing loss or the spread of infection to other areas of the body.

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