Unlock new offers at our Gift for Mom Event!

Your top summer ear infection questions, answered

Last update on May, 08, 2023

The sun is shining, the temperature is rising, and you’re heading to the beach or pool to cool off. While this quintessential summer pastime may stir fond memories or anticipatory relief from the heat, it’s not always sunshine and popsicles.

Let’s be honest: an ear infection in summer is no fun. And when you’re spending your summer days at the pool or beach, it’s not all that uncommon to experience an ache or pain in the ear. After all, the culprits—sand and water—are plentiful. The good news: We have answers to your top summer ear infection questions, including how to prevent them. 

What are common summer ear problems?

Think about all those times you or your kids dove deep into the water to try and touch the bottom or played in the warm sand. Trips to the beach and pool create many opportunities for sand in the ear and water-based ear infections for both children and adults. 

What happens when sand gets in my ear?

If sand ends up in your ear while you’re at the beach, don’t fret. Getting sand in the ears can happen to anyone. But is sand in the ears dangerous or can sand in the ears cause infection, you ask? Yes, if not addressed right away.

Particles not cleaned out right after your swim can cause issues. Sand in ears symptoms include:

  • Discomfort. You may feel pain in your ear where the sand is.
  • Hearing loss. If you notice it’s harder to hear out of one or both ears, this could be a sign that sand is obstructing the ear canal.
  • Redness. If you or a friend or family member notice your ear looks irritated, sand may have gotten into your ear.
Pimple in ear

Prevention is key

Never underestimate the importance of ear care, your hearing might depend on it.

How can I get sand out of my ear?

Sand in ear removal may be easier than you think. Try these tips, and if the issue persists, talk to your doctor for an alternative sand in ear treatment. 

Don’t underestimate this tried-and-true technique. Simply angle the affected ear downward and gently pull on the earlobe. This should help open the ear canal and coax the sand out. 

If tilting the head is ineffective, try saline or ear drops, which you may already have at home (if not, these are easily found at your local pharmacy). With a solution in hand, tilt the head to the side so the affected ear faces upward and add a few drops, following the directions on the package. After the specified amount of time, turn the ear downward so the solution can drain, hopefully bringing the sand along with it. Use a clean towel or washcloth to dry the area. 

Like using drops or saline, hydrogen peroxide can help remove sand in ears by adding drops, waiting a few minutes, and draining the solution out of the ear. If opting for this remedy, consult with your doctor or pharmacist about the correct dosage of the antiseptic. Again, use a clean towel or washcloth to dry the area when finished.
Woman holding a surf board at the beach

Keep hearing your life at its fullest

Visit our centers and learn even more about how to dry out wet hearing aids.

Can pools and dirty water cause ear infections and pain?

Yes. While short-term ear pain after swimming can be common, being in unclean or contaminated water—whether a pool or natural body of water—can lead to infection and discomfort. When contaminated water sits in the ear for a prolonged amount of time after a swim, bacteria can build up and affect the skin. This is also known as swimmer’s ear, about which you’ll find more information below, along with how to prevent ear infections after swimming. 

Find your closest Miracle-Ear center

Your store

Why do I have ear pain after swimming?

Whenever you submerge in water, the outer ear canal fills with water, and typically, when done swimming, the water drains. Ear pain after swimming can happen if that water doesn’t properly drain or you swam in unclean water. If the pain lingers, this could be a sign the ear is infected and requires treatment.

Can I get ear infections from pools?

Water in pools and other recreational water venues are full of germs, one of the most frequent causes of swimmer’s ear. 

Swimmer’s ear, as mentioned above, occurs when water gets in the ear and stays there for a prolonged period, allowing germs to grow in the outer ear canal. An ear infection after swimming in a pool might be swimmer’s ear. Symptoms—including itchiness, redness and pus—are usually mild at first but can grow more intense the longer the infection goes untreated. 

A woman swimming in the pool

Learn how to protect your ears

Swimming, diving and simply taking a shower can result in water trapped inside the ear canal, potentially leading to irritation or infection. With our custom hearing protection for swimmers, the water stays out.

FAQs on Summer ear infections

When determining the right ear pain after swimming treatment, consider your symptoms.

  • If the ear itches: Try using ear drops, applying a warm washcloth or laying a heating pad on the ear.
  • If the ear is painful: Consider calling your primary doctor or an otorhinolaryngologist—better known as an ear, nose and throat doctor or ENT—to determine the right course of treatment. 

To prevent an ear infection after swimming, consider these pre- and post-swim tips:

  • Wear a swim cap and/or ear plugs to help keep the ear canal dry;
  • Tip your head to alternating sides to help the ear canals dry;
  • Use a hair dryer on the lowest heat setting to dry your ears.

Determining how long to avoid swimming after ear infection depends on when the pain has stopped. Once it’s gone, wait three more days before jumping back in the water. 

Ear pain after swimming in cold water is also known as surfer’s ear and occurs because of prolonged exposure to cold water that causes benign bone growth in the ear canal. To help prevent this growth and pain, wear earplugs and a bodysuit with a neoprene hood to keep cold water out of the ear canal. 
girl with tablet

Try our free online hearing test

Try out Miracle-Ear online hearing test, your first step to better hearing is only a click away! In less than five minutes you'll have a better understanding of your hearing health.

More from the blog

Discover a world of sounds.
View all

Get support and advice

Book an appointment online

Book now

Take a free online hearing test

Start test

Find a hearing aid center near you

Search now