Pharmamum Cases: Swimmer’s Ear
Rachel comes into the pharmacy to ask for some advice about her 4-year-old son Josh, who has been swimming nearly every day over the summer holidays and he is complaining of a sore ear, is there any drops to help him?
One very important role of a pharmacist is to promptly advise whether a visit to the doctor is necessary or a simple over the counter remedy can be tried first, to treat a health complaint. When advising about ear pain, it is necessary for a baby, child or adult of any age with ear pain, to been seen to by their local doctor as pain in the ear is most likely due to an infection. It is important for the doctor to determine where in the ear the infection is located in order to determine the treatment. With regards to Josh’s ear, his mother explained he has been swimming a lot over the summer and due to a lot of water exposure, this often causes softening of the skin surrounding the outer ear canal allowing particular bugs to get in and multiply. The ear can feel very sore and tender to touch. There can be a feeling of fullness in the ear and even discharge can occur from the ear. It’s important to tell Rachel that an outer ear infection is simple to treat with ear drops prescribed by your doctor but it is important that it is not left untreated as this can lead to complications and spread of the infection. Pain relief such as panadol or nurofen can be given as well until the pain subsides. It is important for Rachel to ensure Josh’s ear is dry after every swim and bath/shower using a tissue to gently dry in and around the ear. There are drops available over the counter in the pharmacy which work in two ways: 1) they dry up the moisture that is trapped in the ear canal and 2) they restore the ear canal to an acidic environment to make the skin less susceptible to infections. Brands include Aquaear and Ear Clear Swimmer’s ear.
Tips given to Rachel to prevent another infection:
- Dry ears after every swim and bath/shower either using a dry towel, dry tissue or even hair dryer.
- Use ear plugs when swimming
- Don’t use cotton buds to remove ear wax as they can often push ear wax and dirt deeper into the ear canal. You don’t want to remove that layer of earwax that is protecting the ear, as you can irritate the skin in the ear canal, making it more susceptible to ear infections.
- If she feels her son’s ears build up a lot of ear wax, or gets itchy and flaky skin in and around the ear canal, she should speak to her doctor about that as she may need to get her sons ear cleaned periodically by a health professional.
Please feel free to leave comments on this blog and if there are any questions I am more than happy to answer them. Also, if you tried a remedy that worked well for your children that was, or wasn’t mentioned above, let me know. I hope this information does help.
Disclaimer – The material on this blog is only to be used for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before applying the methods, medicines, techniques or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein. The names of people mentioned in this blog have been changed to protect the real patient’s confidentiality.