Childhood Maladies

Childhood Maladies

Children and Swimmers Ear

Childhood Maladies – A child can develop swimmers’ ear when a bacterial growth has taken place inside the ear canal. This is not to be confused with more common ear infections children tend to get when they have a cold.

The medical term for swimmers’ ear is ‘Otis externa’ and involves bacterial infection in the ear canal, which leads to the eardrum.

What Causes It

The skin found in that section of the ear is very delicate and is protected naturally by a thin layer of earwax. This allows water to go in and out of the ear easily.

A problem occurs when the water washes away all or some of this earwax coating, which allows the water to stay inside the ear and bacteria starts to breed.

Symptoms may include pain, redness, swelling and itching in the ear. You should be careful not to let the ear get bumped as it may cause severe pain.

You will need to take the child to the doctor to confirm the diagnosis and treatment. The doctor will prescribe some antibiotics to kill off the bacteria.

You will want to be sure and follow the dosage and treatment times very stringently or the bacteria will regain a foothold again.

In some cases, they insert a wick in the ear if the doctor thinks the medicine needs to be applied directly. If the child is in a lot of pain, you may also give him some pain relievers such as Tylenol.

Swimmer’s ear is not normally caused by water entering the ear when taking baths or showers. Often children who are members of the summer swimming camp will complain of this problem. Once the swimmer’s ear is treated, the child shouldn’t be allowed to swim right away.


A Doctor, will normally advise them to stay away from water for 1-2 weeks. This may seem like a long time period, but the ear needs time to become completely healed. There are special eardrops available over the counter, which can be put in the child’s ear after swimming that will help to dry up any water inside the ear.

An inquisitive child trying to put things in the ear and therefore damaging could also cause a swimmer’s ear. This scratched area can allow bacteria to develop. To avoid this scenario, it will be up to the parents’ supervision.

Common Childhood Maladies

Regards, Coyalita

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