It seems that even simple Summer fun comes with risks, and if you're cooling off in the pool, on the beach, or with water sports like surfing, you're at risk for a bacterial infection known as swimmer's ear. When your ear is exposed to excess moisture, whether from swimming or bathing, water can become trapped in your ear canal. The delicate skin inside your ear can then become soggy and we all know how bacteria love moist places.
Although commonly brought on by exposure to water, swimmer's ear can also be caused by cuts or abrasions in the ear canal lining from sand, dirt, or irritation from cotton swab use — your mom was right about not sticking anything in your ear! Some people experience insane itchiness, but the ear can also be extremely tender to the touch, or cause pain, ringing, or a feeling of fullness inside the ear.
Antibiotic drops are often prescribed to cure the infection, but here's an inexpensive way to prevent swimmer's ear if you're prone to it or know you'll be spending time in water. Definitely don't stick Q-tips in your ear to soak up the water as it can impact ear wax or puncture the eardrum, setting the stage for an infection. Try this instead: mix 1/4 cup white vinegar with 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol. Squeeze drops of this solution inside the ear before and after spending time in the water and it'll help speed up the evaporation of moisture that gets trapped inside the ear.