Many cases of otitis externa may be prevented by decreasing the opportunity for water or moisture to enter the ear canal by taking the following measures.
- Carefully dry the ears after swimming or bathing
- Shake out excess water in the ear.
- Hold a hair drier on a low heat setting at least 12 inches from the ear
- Wear earplugs while swimming.
Otitis externa can also be caused by putting objects into the ear canal.
- Do not use objects to clean the ear (for example, paper clips, bobby pins, or fingernails) that may tear the skin. Most people have ears that are self-cleansing, and cleaning with a cotton-tipped swab is unnecessary and potentially harmful. People who have excess wax buildup should have it removed by a health care professional who can remove the debris under direct vision using an otoscope or with ear irrigation.
- Ocassionaly, a foreign object such as an insect can cause inflammation and pain, and will need to be removed by a health care professional.
- Minimize exposure of infants and children to others with colds or upper respiratory infections. This may require altering day care visit patterns.
- Avoid bottle feeding in the supine (lying) position.
- Babies who are breastfed for the first 6 months have a decreased risk of developing ear infections.
- Eliminate pacifier use after 6 months of age.
- Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Keep immunizations current, including those for influenza.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/23/2015
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