Otitis externa, or swimmer's ear, is an ear infection that affects the external ear and outer ear canal. Symptoms of swimmer's ear can include inflammation of the ear, itchiness inside the ear, pain when the ear is pulled or when the head is tilted, and infection leaking from the ear. The Centers for Disease Control indicate that swimmer's ear most often affects children and young adults. Protect your family by practicing proactive methods of protecting your ears while swimming.
Avoid swimming in bodies of water that may be contaminated. Check for regular cleaning and disinfecting schedules if using a public pool; check for pollution level warnings before planning a swim in local rivers, lakes or ponds.
Wear a swimming cap to help protect your ears from getting wet while you are swimming. It is important to put the swimming cap on properly with the ears completely covered. To put the swimming cap on, place your hands inside the cap with fingers laced. Stretch the swimming cap open. Lean forward and slide the cap on, slowly moving your hands downward as the cap slides onto your head. Once the swimming cap reaches your ears, remove your hands completely and tug the cap down until your ears are covered.
Wear ear plugs as an alternative to a swimming cap to prevent water from entering the outer ear canal. Ear plugs come in both disposable and reusable versions; people who do not have latex allergies should consider using reusable latex plugs. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for application, taking care not to push the plugs in too deeply.
Dry your ears thoroughly after exiting the water. Use a clean, soft towel to gently pat your outer ear dry. Tilt your head to the side to allow any water that has gotten into the inner ear to drain out. Repeat the process with the other ear. Another option for getting ears completely dry is to use a blow dryer. Set the blow dryer to its lowest setting. Hold the blower dryer approximately a foot out away from your ear and then turn it on. Keep the blow dryer aimed on your ear for about 30 seconds. Repeat for the other ear.
Apply a preventive home remedy. The Cleveland Clinic recommends creating a mixture that is one part vinegar and one part rubbing alcohol to apply to the ears before and after swimming as a possible way to prevent bacteria that can cause swimmer's ear. Tilt your head and use a medicine dropper to apply one drop of the mixture into your ear. Hold for 10 seconds and then allow the mixture to drain out. Repeat for the other ear.