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Swimmer’s Ear

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

If you have a child who loves to spend most of their summer vacation in the swimming pool, there is a chance they could develop a painful condition called “swimmer’s ear.”

“Swimmer’s ear is an infection of the external ear canal,” says Dr. John McClay an associate professor of pediatrics at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and a pediatric Ear, Nose and Throat specialist with Children’s Medical Center Dallas. The infection happens when moisture enters the ear canal and becomes trapped. Dr. McClay says the condition is more common in children than in adults and can be very painful for children.

Dr. McClay says there is a simple way parents can help their child prevent swimmer’s ear. After swimming put a few drops of a homemade solution into the child’s ear. The solution is an equal mixture of alcohol and white vinegar. “The alcohol dries the ear canal out, which it needs to do and the vinegar re-acidifies the can. That decreases the chance of infection.”

The best course of treatment is to normally have your pediatrician insert a wick into the ear canal. Dr McClay says “it allows the medicine to get to all parts of the ear canal so you get better faster.” The wick will normally fall out as swelling in the ear goes down. The medicine normally prescribed is an antibiotic with a steroid.

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