Health e-Hints™

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Q: My daughter swims year round and has recently been getting ear infections. Can they be prevented?

- Jovana

A. Swimmer's ear, or otitis externa, is a common childhood infection that often occurs in children who swim or dive for long periods of time. Water can sit in their ear canal and lead to irritation and infection of the outer ear. The good news is that outer ear infections can frequently be prevented.

For starters, your daughter can use removable earplugs to help keep her ear canal dry. After getting wet, the best way to dry her ears is with a hair dryer. She should also avoid cleaning her ears with cotton swabs or sharp objects (like bobby pins), which could scratch the skin and allow bacteria or fungi to enter. And talk to your daughter's doctor about using alcohol drops like SwimEar at the end of a swim to help dry up the water in her ears and prevent infection.

Swimmer's ear can be treated with antibiotics. Your daughter's doctor will probably recommend that she stay out of the pool while she's recovering.