Otitis Externa (Swimmer's Ear) | Prevention


How can I prevent swimmer's ear?

The best way to prevent swimmer's ear is to keep the ear canal's natural defenses against infection working well. Follow these tips:

  • Never put anything in the ear canal (cotton swabs, your finger, paper clips, liquids or sprays). This can damage or irritate the skin. If your ears itch a lot, see your doctor.
  • Leave earwax alone. If you think your earwax affects your hearing, see your doctor to be sure there's no other cause.
  • Keep your ears as dry as possible. Use a towel to dry your ears well after swimming or showering. Help the water run out of your ears by turning your head to each side and pulling the earlobe in different directions. A hair dryer set on the lowest heat and speed can also help to dry ears. Be sure to hold it several inches from your ear. If you swim or surf, use a bathing cap or wet suit hood to keep water out of your ears. There are also special earplugs designed to keep water out of your ears while you are swimming.


See a list of resources used in the development of this information.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 05/16
Created: 01/99