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Getting an ear infection is no fun for your little one, or for you! While your little swimmer might be in pain if they have an ear infection, it doesn’t always mean they need to miss swim lessons. Here’s what you need to know about the different kinds of ear infections and how you can try and prevent your little one from getting one in the first place.


children's ear infections and swimming


Inner or middle ear infections

An Inner ear infection often shows up after a cold. They can be painful, but many parents don’t even know their child has one until they are at a general pediatric checkup. A doctor will usually prescribe antibiotics for this type of infection.


If your child has an inner ear infection, they can still enjoy our warm water. Our inner ears are protected by the eardrum, meaning water cannot get in and make this type of infection worse. If your child is older, just let their instructor know so they can avoid doing deep dives that day.


Outer ear infections AKA Swimmer’s Ear

Outer Ear Infections also known as swimmer’s ear and Otitis externa, are seen in older children and adults who are in the water frequently and can occur for many different reasons. These types of infections happen when moisture gets trapped in the canal and bacteria multiplies.


These can be very painful and can occur after swimming or bathing, from wax build up, using Q tips, or from the ear coming into contact with certain chemicals. Your swimmer will want to refrain from swim lessons for 7 to 10 days, or until the doctor says it’s okay.


Preventing Swimmer’s Ear

Some kids are more prone to infections than others. Here are tips to help prevent swimmer’s ear in the first place:


  1. Dry your child’s ears thoroughly after lessons and bathtime

Tilt their head and to the side and have them shake it to help drain water out of the canal.


  1. Use ear plugs or a swim cap

If your child is prone to outer ear infections, cover their head with a swim cap or use ear plugs before lessons for protection. This way water can’t get in the ear in the first place.


  1. Don’t let foreign objects in the ear

Avoid letting Q-tips, cotton swabs, pencils, fingers, etc, go into your child’s ear.


  1. Avoid dirty water

If swimming in a lake or stream, rinse out their ears with clean water afterward.