For busy kids who savor every minute of playtime, few things can keep them down. But swimmer's ear can pretty much ruin the party instantly. Knowing how to treat swimmer's ear in kids is crucial, because your little one might deal with this condition sooner or later. Unfortunately, it can get painful if left untreated.
Caused by fungi or bacteria, swimmer's ear is the inflammation of the external ear canal, as explained in Johns Hopkins Medicine. When water gets trapped in the ear canal, it can allow bacteria to flourish and lead to the swimmer's ear, as noted by the American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNSF). As the name suggests, swimming can sometimes lead to this condition. But many other things can cause swimmer's ear, including cuts inside the skin of the ear, eczema, and even cleaning too far inside the ear canal, as further noted by the AAO-HNSF. You can get swimmer's ear without going anywhere near a pool or beach, which is quite a bummer.
The early symptoms of swimmer's ear can include mild discomfort, itchiness, and redness around the ear area, as noted by the Mayo Clinic. More severe cases can progress to hearing problems, a feeling of fullness inside the ear, and severe pain that can extend to the face and neck, as further explained by the Mayo Clinic. With this in mind, it's best to treat these infections ASAP. Here are some proven methods for taking care of swimmer's ear infections in the early stages.
1. Dry The Ears
Make sure you have plenty of towels handy after your kid swims or takes a bath. Keeping the ears dry is another important step in the treatment process, as noted by Johns Hopkins Medicine. You can even gently dry out their ears with a hair dryer set to cool, if you want to be extra careful.
2. OTC Ear Drops
It looks like ear drops are the first line of defense for this condition. Provided your kid does not have a punctured eardrum, it's generally safe to use over-the-counter ear drop solutions, as noted in the Mayo Clinic. If you aren't sure about your kid's eardrum, then check with a doctor first.
3. Pain Medication
Sometimes ear infections just plain hurt. Your kid may need some OTC pain medications to relieve the aches associated with swimmer's ear, as explained by the Mayo Clinic. Just make sure it's the right strength for your kid.
4. Clean The Area
This is a task best left for the doctor's office. Sometimes physicians will gently clean any fluids, wax, or dead skin that has built up in the ear canal, as noted in WebMD. This is to help the ear drops work better.
5. Prescription Ear Drops
The doctor may give your kid some more intense ear drops for an advanced infection. Antibiotic and corticosteroid ear drops are a common treatment for swimmer's ear, as noted by Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Chances are, you'll get the honor of applying drops to your kid's ear. To make the drops more comfortable, try warming the bottle in your hands first. (Cold drops falling into your ear canal can be unpleasant.) Hopefully the infection will clear up soon, so your kid can be free from this persistent ear pain.