Swimmer's ear is an infection of the skin lining the ear canal. This problem is most common among swimmers or children that spend a lot of time in water. If your child has swimmer's ear, he or she may have the following symptoms:
Painful ear canals
Pain when the ear is moved up and down
Pain when the tab of the outer ear overlying the ear canal is pushed in
Ear feels plugged up
Slight amount of clear discharge at first (without treatment, the discharge becomes yellowish)
What is the cause?
Swimmer's ear occurs when your child's ears have been in the water for long periods of time. When water gets trapped in the ear canal the lining becomes damp, swollen and prone to infection.
Children are likely to get swimmer's ear from swimming in lake water, swimming pools or the sea. During the hottest weeks of summer, some lakes have high levels of bacteria. Large amounts of wax can trap water in ears. Sleeping with wet hair can increase risk of swimmer's ear.
How long does it last?
With treatment, symptoms should be better in 3 days.
How can I take care of my child?
Antibiotic-steroid eardrops for severe swimmer's ear. (These require a prescription.)
Run the eardrops into ear canal then move the ear lobe back and forth to help the eardrops pass down. Continue using the eardrops for a full 7 days.
Generally, your child should not swim for 7 days. If he is on a swim team, he may continue but should use the eardrops as a rinse after each swimming session. Continued swimming may cause a slower recovery but won't cause any serious problems.