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How to Keep Water Out of Ears While Swimming, Bathing, & More

Not sure how to keep water out of ears while swimming? If you’re one of the many athletes who has ear tubes or suffers from chronic swimmer’s ear, you know that keeping water out of your ears is a never ending dilemma. Whether your swim takes you to the pool, beach, or lake, suffering from an inner ear malady takes the fun out of the water. In our experience as swimming instructors, these tools really do the trick for adults and children recovering from myringotomy or other inner ear surgeries. If you’re at your wit’s end, try one of our simple solutions to keep water out of your ears.

Inner Ear Protection

Doc's Pro Plugs Earplugs
Doc’s Pro Plugs provide the most reliable ear protection, when sized correctly.

One of the most common methods to stop water from entering the ear is to don a pair of ear plugs. Designed to fit easily and comfortably in the ear canal, earplugs are the simplest way for swimmers to enjoy the water without concern for ear infections. Depending on your personal preferences, earplugs are available in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and materials. Fitted silicone earplugs offer a custom fit, but take some effort to size properly; Flanged earplugs create a watertight seal by mimicking the shape of the inner canal, but are a one-size-fits-all option. Silicone putty plugs are the simplest to use, as well as the most economical. And, although popular among children for their ease of use, moldable ear plugs come out more easily than their pre-formed counterparts.

Outer Ear Protection

Aqua Earband

Not a fan of ear plugs? There are a couple of other ways to protect your delicate ear canal without putting anything directly into your ears. Ear care devices like Aqua Earbands cover the outer portion of the ear to create a splash-proof seal. Developed by Canadian ear, nose, and throat doctors for their post-surgery patients, these neoprene bands keep water from entering the ears, but are best for use above water if worn on their own. Alternatively, some swim caps, such as the Aqua Glide Cap by Aqua Sphere, come equipped with designated “ear pockets”. This not only provides staying power during flip turns, but helps keep water out of the ear canal as well.

There’s no right or wrong way to combine ear protection devices. In fact, many swimmers layer a few different products for peace of mind. Earbands and caps can be worn over ear plugs to double the amount of ear protection. At AquaGear’s Swim School, we typically recommend wearing a pair of earplugs and an earband for the most comfortable and effective protection possible.


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