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Health Tip: Get in the Swim

But watch out for water in your ears

TUESDAY, March 1, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- You don't have to be a swimmer to get swimmer's ear. The condition may develop any time excess water, sand, dirt or other debris gets into the ear canal.

If you have had swimmer's ear in the past, you have a higher risk of getting it again. In most cases, it's best to leave your ears alone and let them maintain their own healthy, natural balance, says the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Here are some additional suggestions:

  • Do not scratch or clean the inside of the ear with cotton swabs, bobby pins, your fingernail or other objects.
  • Avoid prolonged use of earplugs. Both cotton swabs and earplugs can cause irritation, itching and plug the ear with wax.
  • Keep soap, bubble bath and shampoo out of the ear canal. These products can cause itching and irritation.
  • Keep your ears dry.
  • If you use public swimming pools or hot tubs, ask about the chlorine and pH testing of the pool. You are less likely to get swimmer's ear from facilities that maintain good control of their pool testing and treatment.
  • Do not swim in dirty water.
  • Follow any instructions your health professional has given you to treat skin problems that may cause ear canal irritation.
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