What can I do to prevent swimmer's ear (otitis externa)?

  • Keep ears as dry as possible. Place a shower cap over your head to help prevent water or hair shampoo from getting into your ears. Place a cotton ball in the ear but do not push it in far. Use a dry towel to dry your ears after bathing or swimming. Use ear plugs if you play water sports or are frequently in water.
  • Turn your head from side to side after getting out of water. This helps water drain from your ears.
  • Don't stick anything into your ear canal. This includes pens/pencils, fingers, bobby clips or cotton-tipped swabs. (Swabs should only be used to dry the outer ear.)
  • Don't swim in polluted water.
  • Do not swallow the water you swim in.
  • Use a simple, homemade solution to help prevent bacteria from growing inside the ear. Mix one drop of vinegar with one drop of isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol and put one drop in each ear after bathing or swimming. Be sure to check with your doctor first before making and using this homemade solution.

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