Health Watch - Fun in the Sun: Swimmer's Ear

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about summer fun. Swimming is one of the most popular summer activities, but it can leave you with a painful ear infection.

Dr. Barbara Schultz, an ear specialist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says water mixing with ear wax creates the perfect environment for bacteria to grow in the dark, enclosed ear canal. The result is a painful infection commonly known as swimmer’s ear. You can prevent swimmer’s ear by using over-the-counter ear drops or a 50-50 mix of white vinegar and rubbing alcohol after you swim. These drops dry the water from the ear. The ear drops cost a few dollars, and they’re a lot less expensive than the antibiotics it takes to clear up an infection. If you have a damaged eardrum or have tubes in your ears, swim only with a doctor’s approval and don’t use the drying drops. They won’t cause damage, but they will be very painful.

Visit to learn more about
UT Southwestern’s clinical services in ears, nose and throat.


July 2009

Health Watch is heard Monday through Friday nationwide on ABC Satellite Radio. Call your local radio station and ask if they carry the program.