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Whether you expose your ears to water by swimming or taking a shower, it's important to dry them afterwards. Water trapped inside your ears not only feels uncomfortable, it can interfere with hearing. Even more importantly, when water remains in your ears it increases your risk for a condition called swimmer's ear. You don't have to be a swimmer to get swimmer's ear. Any exposure to water can cause it.
Swimmer's ear is an infection involving the outer ear canal. It's more common among swimmers because they frequently expose their ear canals to water. Non-swimmers who sit in a whirlpool, Jacuzzi or sauna are also at higher risk for swimmer's ear. Every time you take a shower or wash your hair, you expose your ear canals to water. If you don't remove the water, it creates an environment where organisms that cause infection can grow and thrive. This can lead to swimmer's ear. Common symptoms of swimmer's ear include ear redness and swelling, ear pain, ear fullness, decreased hearing, itchy ear canals or pus draining from the ear. If not treated, swimmer's ear can lead to complications including hearing loss or damage to the underlying structures that support the ear.
The best way to avoid swimmer's ear is to keep your ear canals dry. Some people wear ear plugs to keep water out of their ears when swimming, although these can sometimes be irritating to the ear canals. Wearing a bathing cap when taking a shower will also reduce the amount of water that gets into your ear canals. Once water is in your ear, it can be difficult to completely remove. Surface tension causes the water to stick to the walls of the ear canal. Ear-dry drops contain ingredients that break the surface tension so "stubborn" moisture can be more easily removed. They help to remove moisture you can't see.
To prevent swimmer's ear, be careful where you swim. Avoid swimming in polluted rivers or lakes or pools that aren't properly maintained. Be careful how you clean your ears. When you clean your ear canals with cotton swabs, it can remove the layer of wax that protects the inside of your ear canals from germs. Cotton swabs can also scratch the ear canals and make it easier for bacteria to "stick."
Ear dry drops are safe but you shouldn't use them if you have sudden, sharp ear pain, hearing loss or discharge coming from your ear. These may be signs of a ruptured eardrum. If it's possible you have a ruptured eardrum, you should see your doctor.
Ear dry drops help to remove moisture to reduce the risk of swimmer's ear. If you have symptoms of swimmer's ear, see your doctor. In some cases, you may need antibiotics. Once it's healed, take steps to remove the water from your ear canals after exposure to water in order to avoid future problems. Walgreens has a variety of ear care products to choose from to help with uncomfortable ear problems.