Sleepless nights, tons of tears and repeated wails that “my ear hurts!”

Since Weiss Pediatric Care opened its doors just 10 weeks ago, we’ve heard these words from countless parents.

It turns out that summer time + swimming fun = swimmer’s ear.

Not every child will get swimmer’s ear, but if you have cared for a child who has had swimmer’s ear, you know how incredibly painful it can be.

Swimmer’s ear, or otitis externa, is an inflammation of the external ear canal.  It’s caused when water gets into the ear and doesn’t drain properly. That’s when the ear canal can become irritated and infected.  Your child may complain that her ear itches or hurts, especially when she moves her head.

So what can you do to prevent swimmer’s ear?

Here are Dr. Weiss’s top 3 tips for preventing swimmer’s ear in kids.

1.  Use three to four drops of a 1:1 mixture of isopropyl alcohol (70% or greater) and white vinegar, after swimming.  You can store your homemade drops in a bottle with a squirt spout or dropper so you’ll have plenty on hand whenever you need them. CAUTION: Drops shouldn’t be used if your child has tubes, is being treated for an outer ear infection, or has ear drainage

2.  After swimming, encourage your child to tilt and shake her head to drain water from her ears.

3.  DON’T put objects in the ear canal (including cotton-tip swabs, pencils or fingers). Scratching the skin of the ear canal can let germs get in under the skin and cause infection.

If your child complains that her ears feel itchy, it could be because of an early swimmer’s ear.  You might try rinsing the ears with the vinegar and alcohol solution a few times a day and keep your child out of the water for 2-3 days.  But if the ear hurts, or the alcohol and vinegar solution burns, then it’s time to call the doctor.

At Weiss Pediatric Care, we have walk-in hours between 8:00-9:00 a.m. and Saturday morning hours for acute illnesses, such as swimmer’s ear, by appointment from 9:30-11:30 a.m.