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Baby Swimming: How to Deal with Swimmer's Ear

Baby Swimming: How to Deal with Swimmer's Ear
17 June 2015 1781 Views No comments

Ear infections are a common illness among babies and children, and can be very uncomfortable for your little one. While some ear infections may seemingly flair up out of nowhere, one common cause is swimmer's ear.

This particular type of infection is characterised by the external ear canal becoming red and swollen. The reason it is called swimmer's ear is that it can often be caused by water getting trapped in the ear when swimming. However, it can be a result of other things as well.

Also called otitis externa, swimmer's ear is caused by a fungal or bacterial infection, although it can also result from an allergic reaction. If you suspect that your little one has an ear infection, it is important to take them to your GP as soon as possible.

Your doctor may opt to prescribe antibiotics to help get rid of the infection, if they deem the infection to be bad enough, so that your child isn't in discomfort for any longer than need be.

But exactly what is swimmer's ear?

What causes swimmer's ear?

There are several different things that can cause this type of ear infection. The most common of which is excess moisture entering the ear canal.

Water carries bacteria which can get trapped in the ear canal and result in inflammation. This is why it is important to dry your baby thoroughly after swimming, including their ears. Use a towel to dry the outside of their ear and around the ear canal.

You should avoid putting things in their ears in an attempt to dry them, as this can also cause the ear infection.

Inserting cotton buds into your baby's ears is not only dangerous, but can also push ear wax that is carrying bacteria deeper into the ear so that your child's body is not able to get rid of it. This means that an ear infection is more likely to occur.

Swimmer's ear can also be caused by bacteria getting into broken skin. You might think that this is unlikely to happen, but if your baby has a skin condition like eczema then it can spread to the ear canal and cause the infection.

If your baby has eczema or psoriasis, it is a good idea to talk to your GP about ways in which you can help to soothe it and stop it spreading.

How can you tell if a baby has swimmer's ear?

The most obvious way to tell if your baby has the ear infection is their obvious discomfort. Swimmer's ear can be quite painful, so your little one isn't going to be very happy.

As well as this, the infection often results in redness and swelling around the opening of the ear, a spot just inside the ear – which might be visible, but that you shouldn't attempt to pop – swollen glands around baby's face and neck, and temporary hearing loss in the affected ear.

If you notice one or more of these symptoms, you should have a GP check your little one out as soon as possible. This will help to avoid the infection getting worse and could save your child a lot of discomfort.

How can you get rid of swimmer's ear?

More often than not, swimmer's ear ends up going away on its own. This can take up to a week, but you should seek medical advice if it doesn't seem to be clearing up after more than five days.

It is important during this time to keep your baby's ears as dry as possible, which means no swimming and careful bathing. You can wash around the ear with a warm, damp cloth, but be sure that no water enters the ear.

You can also use a warm flannel to help relieve any pain and discomfort by gently holding it against their ear.

If you notice any discharge coming from the ear canal, wipe it away with cotton wool as carefully as possibly, being careful not to push any back into the ear.

Baby paracetamol and ibuprofen can also be used to help with the pain, so long as your baby is the right age and weight. It is important that you check you can give infant medication to your little one first, so always read the insert.

How can I avoid swimmer's ear?

If you want to reduce the chances of your baby developing swimmer's ear, but don't want to restrict their time in the water, it could be a good idea to add an Aquaband to their swim bag.

These come in a range of sizes, from baby to adult, and work as a splashguard to keep water out of ears. This means that they can help to avoid ear infections and water becoming trapped in your baby's ears, which can also be uncomfortable.

It will allow you to carry on with your baby's swimming development while providing you with peace of mind.