Can I Get Swimmer’s Ear from Swim Lessons?

Swim lessons can be a fun and exciting time for everyone. However, with anything water-related, there’s a chance to develop swimmer’s ear during swim lessons

But what is swimmer’s ear? And can you really get swimmer’s ear from swim lessons?

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor or health care professional. This guide is meant only to inform and act as a broad guideline. It’s not medical advice or law, and shouldn’t be interpreted as such. If you think you have swimmer’s ear or want more information on it, please consult your doctor.

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What is Swimmer’s Ear?

Swimmer’s ear (otitis externa) is an infection in the ear canal. It’s caused, typically, by water that stays in the outer ear canal and allows bacteria to grow. 

Related article: What is Swimmer’s Ear?

If left untreated, it can become painful and can lead to a more serious issue. 

Who Can Get Swimmer’s Ear?

Anyone can get swimmer’s ear. Despite its name, you don’t have to be a swimmer to get it! Even swim instructors can get swimmer’s ear. You can even get it from showering or being outside in the rain.

While younger children tend to get swimmer’s ear more than other ages, anyone can suffer from it. Yes, that means adults and teens, too! 

Can I Get Swimmer’s Ear from Swim Lessons?

The short answer? Yes, you can get swimmer’s ear from swim lessons.

It doesn’t matter if it’s your child, teenager, or even yourself taking lessons. Whenever you’re in the water, you have a chance of getting swimmer’s ear. 

Even though swim lessons typically run about half an hour, it’s still enough time for water to get into the ear canal. Especially if you’re submerging your head in the water frequently. 

That said, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll develop an ear infection while at swim lessons. 

Some individuals will never experience swimmer’s ear even though they’re in the water frequently. Meanwhile, others can get it every time they go into the water.

It’s hard to say for sure if you’ll get swimmer’s ear from swim lessons, as everyone is different. However, it’s best to err on the side of caution and do your best to help prevent it as best you can.

How Can I Prevent Swimmer’s Ear?

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or health care provider. Check with your health care provider to see which suggestions are the best option for you. Ear drops and other suggestions shouldn’t be used if you have ear tubes, ruptured eardrums, or other ear issues.

While you can take steps to help prevent swimmer’s ear, there’s no guarantee that you’ll never get it.

However, you can take preventative measures to lessen the risk of getting it. For those who are prone to ear infections, you’ll want to make sure that you’re taking these extra steps to help keep the infection at bay.

Use Ear Drops

To help prevent swimmer’s ear, use ear drops that are specifically for drying out ears. These are typically a mix that contains rubbing alcohol to help dry out the water. They’re not for everyone, especially if you have ear tubes, ruptured eardrums, or other ear issues.

Consult with your doctor before using ear drops to ensure they’re right for you.

You can buy ear drops for swimmers at most stores. They’re also available online if you can’t find them at the store. Check that box specifically says ‘ear drops for swimmers’ or mentions that it’s an ‘ear drying aid for swimmers’. 

After you get out of the water, put a few drops in each ear. Rub behind the ear (near the base) to help disperse the drops better.

As an alternative, you can make your own ear drying mixture with rubbing alcohol and white vinegar.  

Wear a Swim Cap and Ear Plugs

While they won’t completely keep out the water, swim caps and earplugs can help keep out the majority of the water. If worn correctly, of course.

Much like the ear drops, you’ll need earplugs specific to swimming. The regular foam earplugs that you use to reduce noise won’t stay in and aren’t the best at keeping out the water.

There are three styles of earplugs specific to swimming that you should consider: Moldable, Flanged, and Ergonomic

Earplugs can help keep water out of the ear, they’re not always 100% waterproof. And earplugs fit some people better than others. It’s why we recommend pairing earplugs with a cap to help hold the earplugs in.

Related article: 4 Ways to Prevent Swimmer’s Ear

When wearing a swim cap with earplugs, make sure your cap covers your ears all the way. Or look into getting a cap that specifically has a mold for the ear. Such as this cap from Lahtak.

If you or your child doesn’t like wearing swim caps, try an ear band instead to help hold earplugs in.

Can I Continue Swim Lessons While I Have Swimmer’s Ear?

If you develop swimmer’s ear, speak with your doctor first to determine if you should keep taking lessons. Typically, it’s best to wait until the infection has cleared up before getting back into the water. However, this can vary by each person.

That said, we do highly suggest that you contact your provider if you think you have swimmer’s ear. Not only will they be able to tell you when to get back into the pool, but they can also prescribe medication to help you recover quicker.

If you’re going to miss lessons due to an ear infection (or for any other reasons), be sure to let your instructor or swim school know. Explain the situation and see if they can let you make up the lesson at another time.

As a reminder, swimmer’s ear doesn’t have to mean the end of your swim lessons. You can continue your lessons as you normally have once the infection clears up. Just be sure to either keep or start using the various prevention methods to avoid another infection.


Bonus Content:

A Quick Guide to Swim Lessons: Learning to swim is an important skill. But finding a starting point can be hard. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a quick guide to swim lessons.

10 Qualities to Look for in a Swim Instructor: It can be overwhelming to pick the best swim teacher. Here are the 10 best qualities and traits to help you find your next swim instructor.


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