The summer swimming season isn’t over yet, and kids are coming down with what we used to call, “Swimmer’s Ear.” It’s easy for kids to get swimmer’s ear, otherwise known as “Acute Otitis Externa” — a painful infection of the outer ear canal, usually caused by bacteria. Common symptoms usually include redness and swelling of the ear, and there can be drainage from the ear. Your child may say you sound “funny” as though you are in a cave or as though their ears are “stopped up.” Of course, this affliction is more common in the summertime, when families with children visit the beach, pool or lake to swim, but you will find swimmer’s ear where people swim in indoor pools during other times of the year, as well.
Some basic tips to avoid your child coming home with swimmer’s ear are:
- Help prevent water from entering your child’s ears by making sure they wear a bathing cap or use ear plugs when in swimming;
- Discourage your child from ducking their head under the water frequently if they are prone to get water in their ears (this tip is more effective with adults than children);
- To help water drain from your child’s ear, gently pull on the affected ear’s earlobe in different directions while the child bends their head over (facing their feet);
- Dry your child’s outer-ears with a towel following swimming (this prevents residue water from running into the ear even after the child gets out of the water).
Swimming is a wonderful sport, and great exercise for children — perhaps the best full-body exercise– but there’s one more thing to watch for if your children swim in a fresh water lake, river or pond and that is: Swimmer’s Itch! Swimmer’s Itch, a.k.a. cercarial dermatitis. It’s a raised, red rash that appears on skin that was exposed to the water, anywhere from an hour to 48 hours following swimming. It’s caused by parasites that live in fresh water–and it usually clears up on its own, but the itching can be treated with over-the-counter or prescription anti-itch preparations sold at the local pharmacy. Make sure to check with the pharmacist for child dosing instructions! If the rash persists longer than a couple of days or there is any pus or other discomfort associated with the rash, please consult your pediatrician or dermatologist or take your child to the nearest emergency room.
Summer is almost over… so soon we can begin to think about other wonderful things to do safely with our kids… like camping, biking, playground activities–and so much more! Childsafetyblog.org wishes you a happy and safe end to this summer 2011.