Most children love playing in the water. Swimming lessons are a rite of passage, and once that feat is mastered, it’s a rare parent who isn’t pestered for a trip to the swimming pool, water park, beach or local watering hole. However, frequent exposure to water can result in nasty, painful ear infections and other conditions. The key to safe swimming is making sure your child wears swimming plugs whenever he or she hits the water.
Swimmer’s Ear is an infection of the outer ear canal caused by exposure to water. If the ears aren’t dried thoroughly, water accumulates in the canals and causes irritation. Another malady affecting those with frequent water contact is Surfer’s Ear. This is the common name for exostosis, a condition marked by abnormal bone growth in the ear canal. It occurs when cold water and wind enter the ears, causing the growth of new bone. This blocks the ear canal, trapping water and wax and leading to infection.
The simplest way to prevent afflictions like these is through the use of swimmer’s earplugs. These specially designed plugs are custom fitted to your child’s ears, providing a comfortable fit and tight seal that keeps water from penetrating the ear canals. They are made of silicone or rubber, and most are washable and reusable. Some parents pair them with adjustable headbands to keep the plugs in place. While they may cost more than conventional foam earplugs, remember that these are designed to keep out noise and not water, rendering them ineffective for swimming.