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How to Treat Swimmer’s Ear and Other Common Kid’s Summer Woes

When splashing, swimming, and cannonballing leave your little one with itchy skin, ear pain, or other minor symptoms, reach for these natural remedies top doctors rely on to soothe their own kids’ water woes  

For Swimmer’s Ear

“All three of my kids used to be competitive swimmers, so I’m well-versed in swimmer’s ear,” says Traci A. Purath, MD, a neurologist in Greenfield, Wisconsin. As soon as her children complained about their ear feeling “full,” she’d have them lie on their side with the affected ear up. “I’d place a warm compress against the sore ear to ease swelling, then put four drops of rubbing alcohol and three drops of mineral oil into the ear canal and have the kids stay put for a few minutes, repeating every few hours,” says Dr. Purath. “The alcohol dries ups excess water, while the mineral oil prevents it from over-drying the ear canal,” she explains. “It’s safe and quick, and the kids can go swimming again soon!”

For Chlorine Overload

“Chlorine strips the natural oils off the skin, making my kids’ skin dry and itchy,” says mother-of-two Heather Bartos, MD, medical director at be. Women’s Health & Wellness in Cross Roads, Texas. Her solution: a remedy called Bio-Oil ($14.99, Walmart). “It’s normally thought of as a stretch-mark helper, but it works wonders on dehydrated skin too,” says Dr. Bartos. The oil boasts vitamin E, which helps repair cellular damage, and chamomile extract to reduce inflammation. “It also helps restore the moisture barrier,” she says. After the kids take a bath, Dr. Bartos pats the fast-absorbing oil on their skin, and by the next morning, their skin is back to normal.

For Swimsuit Irritation

Whenever sand and other irritants leave her kids with inflamed, itchy skin, mother-of-four Farzanna S. Haffizulla, MD, assistant dean for community and global health at Nova Southeastern University’s College of Allopathic Medicine in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, knows exactly what to do. First, she has her children rinse off with cool water, then she liberally applies refrigerated diaper cream to the irritated skin. “It acts like a mild astringent, drying out the trapped moisture,” she explains. Plus, the coolness calms inflammation. “It helps immediately,” says Dr. Haffizulla, who suggests a twice-daily application.

This story originally appeared in our print magazine. 

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