Don't let this painful infection of the ear canal keep you out of the water! A few simple precautions can combat the excessive moisture that causes bacteria to fester.
Step 1: Don't over-clean the inside of your ears. Earwax is nature's way of protecting your ears; removing it can make you more vulnerable to infections.
TIP: Never put cotton swabs, your fingers, or anything else into your ear canal. You can scratch or tear the skin, allowing bacteria to enter.
Step 2: Before and after swimming, use over-the-counter swimmer’s eardrops. They help prevent the bacterial and fungal growth. Hold your head still for 30 seconds, and then tilt your head sideways to let the liquid flow out. Or make your own drops by combining equal parts white vinegar and rubbing alcohol.
: Don't use eardrops if you already have swimmer's ear or it will make it worse.
Step 3: Dry your ears as soon as you get out of the water by wiping the outer ear with a towel and then shaking the water out of your ear canals by tilting your head from side to side. You also can use a blow dryer as long as it's set on low and you hold it at least a foot from your ear to prevent burns.
Step 4: See a doctor if you have the symptoms of swimmer's ear, which include itching, fluid discharge, redness, pain, and diminished hearing. The infection will get worse if you don't treat it.
FACT: In 2004, university researchers began developing a new kind of hearing aid inspired by studies of a fly's ear.