Surfer’s Ear

Often referred to as “sun ear”, Surfer’s Ear is a common condition that causes a sensation of ringing in the ears. If you are suffering from this condition, there are ways to treat it and prevent it from happening again.

Preventive measures

Those who regularly surf and/or engage in other water-based activities have a higher risk of developing an ear condition known as exostosis. This is an abnormal growth of bone that forms in the ear canal. Although it is not life-threatening, the growth can cause discomfort and hearing difficulties.

Preventive measures for surfer’s ear include wearing a wetsuit and avoiding cold water. Another prevention method involves wearing a neoprene hood. In addition, wearing a special headband can protect the ear from the wind.

A surgical procedure is also available to remove the bony growth from the ear. The surgery is done by using a micro chisel or drill inside the ear. The recovery period is about three weeks. During this time, the area is covered with a thin sheet of silicone.

If the growth does not go away on its own, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics. These medications can keep the silicone moist and prevent the infection from reoccurring.

In addition, a wetsuit can help prevent external auditory exostoses, a condition that causes the ear to trap water. This leads to a variety of problems including conductive hearing loss and otalgia.

One way to prevent exostosis is to use earplugs. A pair of earplugs are made to fit the shape of a person’s ear, keeping the ear canal clear. If the ear canal is too narrow, foreign objects and water can easily be trapped. This can lead to a painful ear infection and hearing loss.

A neoprene hood can also be used to prevent bony growths in the ear. The hood also protects the ear from the cold air and helps prevent brain freeze.

A blow dryer can help dry the ear after swimming. If the ear is too wet, you can try shaking your head vigorously to loosen the water.

If the ear canal becomes completely plugged, you may have to have surgery to remove the bony growth. During the recovery period, you can also wear a hood or earplugs to keep the canal clear.

If you think you have a surfer’s ear, contact your physician right away. If left untreated, you can suffer from permanent hearing loss and/or a recurrent ear infection.


Symptoms of surfer’s ear include recurrent ear infections. The ear canal may be narrow and water can get trapped inside the ear. This can cause a middle ear infection. It can also cause hearing loss if the water is too cold.

The main risk factors for surfer’s ear are repeated exposure to cold water and wind. This can happen in swimming, surfing, kayaking, or sailing. If you are prone to catching ear infections in polluted or very cold waters, you are at a higher risk for surfer’s ear.

The first thing that you can do to prevent exostosis is to avoid swimming in very cold waters. In addition, if you do swim, be sure to wear a swimming cap. Using silicon earplugs can help keep dirt and debris out of your ear.

Another thing that you can do is to have your external auditory canal regularly cleaned by a head and neck specialist. This will prevent the buildup of debris and reduce the chances of a tympanic membrane rupture.

You can also try to wear a swimming cap when you are in very cold water to protect your ears. You can also wear diving suits to help prevent exostosis.

You can also undergo surgery to remove bony growths that have formed in your ear canal. This can be done through an incision behind the ear. The surgeon uses micro chisels to drill out the bony growths.

After the surgery, you may have to wait several weeks before you can swim again. This is because the bony growths can block the ear canal. You can also use ear drops to help alleviate post-op pain.

If you are having a difficult time with your ears, it may be time to see a Los Angeles ENT doctor. The physician can help determine if you have exostosis or if you are just having a bad ear. He can also explain treatment options and how to prevent exostosis.

If you suspect that you have surfer’s ear, you may have to take antibiotics. This is because the condition is very difficult to treat and you are at a higher risk of catching an ear infection.


Getting treatment for surfer’s ear is important because the condition can cause hearing loss and block the ear canal, causing mucus or ear wax to accumulate. In the most severe cases, surfer’s ear may result in total deafness.

The first step to getting treatment for surfer’s ear is to understand what the condition is. It is caused by repeated exposure to cold water, or wind, which causes the thin skin of the ear canal to become damaged. The affected areas of the canal then grow slowly over years, eventually resulting in small bony lumps.

The condition is generally asymptomatic but is a risk factor for conductive hearing loss and chronic cerumen impaction. If left untreated, exostoses can block the ear canal and cause recurrent infections.

The main risk factor is repeated exposure to cold water. It is not uncommon for surfers to get surfer’s ear in both ears. Approximately three to five percent of surfers have exostoses. The majority of avid surfers have mild growths, which cause little to no problems.

Early exostoses can be asymptomatic and can cause ringing in the ears, pressure in the ear, and aural fullness. Usually, patients do not experience any symptoms until the condition has progressed to the point that it causes pain and a partial or full ear canal closure.

When the condition becomes more serious, it may require surgery. In these cases, the ear specialist makes an incision behind the ear and uses a micro chisel to reopen the ear canal. After the operation, a thin sheet of silicone is inserted into the treated area. Antibiotics are also used to keep the silicone moist.

The best way to prevent this condition is to avoid cold water. If you spend time in water, use a neoprene hood or a diving suit. These devices help to prevent water from entering the ear canal.

Depending on how severe the surfer’s ear is, the affected area of the ear may require several weeks of healing. After the ear heals, patients can begin swimming again. They should wear earplugs during all aquatic sessions, though.

Prevention of recurrence

Having an external auditory canal exostosis (EAE) can cause recurrent otitis externa and conductive hearing loss. It is a condition that can be a life-changing event for some. The main risk factor is repeated exposure to cold water.

People who are surfing regularly are more at risk of developing EAE. Most sufferers are in their mid-30s. They may develop a bony growth in their ear canal that looks like a pump bump. It takes years to develop and symptoms are usually not noticed until the growth is larger.

If the surfer’s ear is left untreated, the bony growths can become infected. This is because of the presence of water in the ear canal. The infection can also lead to cerumen impaction, which can cause recurrent ear infections.

Surgery is available to remove the bony growth from the ear canal. The surgical procedure involves drilling through the ear canal and using chisels to remove the bony growth. This will prevent new growths from occurring.

Another option for preventing the development of a surfer’s ear is wearing earplugs. These must be worn in the water. A hood or headband can also be used to provide additional protection.

It is important to note that the time it takes to develop a surfer’s ear is different for everyone. It can take up to 15 years for the growth to develop. It is more common in males than females. It is also more common in those who are in their mid-to-late 30s.

Many surfers are aware of the risks of surfer’s ear. Most surfers know how to prevent its recurrence. Some surfers wear earplugs and a neoprene hood. However, a majority of surfers do not consistently use these prevention methods.

Other factors that increase the risk of a surfer’s ear include swimming in very cold water, using a wetsuit, and a motorcycle helmet. If you are a swimmer, it is important to clean your ears regularly to avoid tympanic membrane rupture.

Although surfing is not the only sport that can lead to the development of an external auditory canal exostosis, it is the most common. Therefore, healthcare professionals should educate those who are at risk.

Health Sources:

Health A to Z. (n.d.).

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.).

Directory Health Topics. (n.d.).

Health A-Z. (2022, April 26). Verywell Health.

Harvard Health. (2015, November 17). Health A to Z.

Health Conditions A-Z Sitemap. (n.d.).

Susan Silverman

Susan Silverman

Susan Silverman is a Healthy Home Remedies Writer for Home Remedy Lifestyle! With over 10 years of experience, I've helped countless people find natural solutions to their health problems. At Home Remedy Lifestyle, we believe that knowledge is power. I am dedicated to providing our readers with trustworthy, evidence-based information about home remedies and natural medical treatments. I love finding creative ways to live a healthy and holistic lifestyle on a budget! It is my hope to empower our readers to take control of their health!

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