True to post-December holiday patterns, we saw two cases of swimmer’s ear in the clinic yesterday! Here are some tips for how to look after a child who has been diagnosed with this condition:
1. Use the eardrops your doctor prescribes.
Don’t attempt to treat the infection on your own. Using the wrong medication can prolong or worsen otitis externa.
2. Use the best technique to administer eardrops.
Have your child lie on one side with the sore ear up. Fill the ear canal with the prescribed number of drops. Have your child continue to lie still on that same side for 20 minutes. (If lying down is not possible, try to keep the head tilted or put a cotton ball in the ear canal to keep the medicine inside, again for 20 minutes.) If both ears are affected, ask your child to turn to the other side and repeat.
3. Finish the course of treatment.
Follow the doctor’s instructions exactly. Even if the drops make your child feel better after a couple of days, the infection may not yet be cured. Completing the treatment is also important to prevent drug resistance in the infectious organisms.
4. Use over-the-counter pain relief.
If the ear is very sore, nonprescription painkillers (paracetamol, ibuprofen) will make your child more comfortable.
5. Keep ears dry to allow healing.
When showering or shampooing, a cotton ball coated in petroleum jelly may be used to plug the ear and keep it dry.
6. Keeping dry also means no swimming.
Follow your doctor’s recommendations about the return to swimming, usually after 7 to 10 days. The same applies to submerging the ears when bathing in a tub.
7. Don’t put anything in the ears.
As long as the ear remains painful, do not use earbuds, headphones or hearing aids. Refrain from using cotton buds or other instruments to remove wax. To find out why, check out our next post about preventing swimmer’s ear.