How to avoid or prevent surfer’s ear?
Ear plugs and/or a wetsuit hood. Plain and simple. By preventing cold water from repeatedly flushing in and out of your ears, you’ll improve your chances of avoiding ear surgery in the future. Some water getting into your ear canal isn’t really a problem (it will be warmed to body temperature soon enough if trapped there), it’s the flushing in and out of cold water and the wind that causes the problem.
“The condition can be prevented by stopping the repeated ingress of cold water into the ears either with plugs or a hood. Despite this the use of protection has been poor in the UK. Our study of winter surfers’ awareness of exostosis in 2010 revealed that only 60% knew of its preventability, and only 54% used some form of protection. Knowledge of the condition was associated with a greater likelihood of using protection and I would therefore expect this figure to improve as more information is provided for the surfing population.”
Dr. Phil Flanagan – Cornwall, UK
These days ear plugs are far more advanced and don’t affect one’s hearing or balance in the way that they used to, and certainly not in the way that putting putty in your ears will. If you keep your surfboard, wetsuit gear, towel, wax and fins in the boot of your car, then there’s really no excuse not to add a pair of ear plugs to that kit list – of not for the summer then most definitely over the winter.
For expert medical advice regarding the diagnosis and treatment of auditory exostosis in Cornwall, contact Dr. Phil Flanagan at Royal Cornwall Hospital (Treliske).
If you’re interested in finding out more about surfer’s ear and how it is treated, there’s a deep dive into the topic written by Mat last year over on Surf Simply Magazine.