Surfer’s Ear Treatment Doctor Q&A

Surfer’s Ear Treatment Doctor Q&A

Surfer’s ear is an ear condition that often develops multiple bony growths within the ear. Over time it can partially or fully block the ear canal. If you believe you have a surfer’s ear, contact Minit Medical Urgent Care today to speak to a physician or book an appointment. We have convenient locations to serve you in Kahului HI, Kihei HI, and Lahaina HI.

Surfer’s Ear Treatment Doctor Near Me in Kahului HI, Kihei HI, and Lahaina HI
Surfer’s Ear Treatment Doctor Near Me in Kahului HI, Kihei HI, and Lahaina HI

Table of Contents:

How do you know if you have a surfer’s ear?
What does surfer’s ear feel like?
How long does it take to develop surfers’ ears?
What is the treatment of a surfer’s ear?

How do you know if you have a surfer’s ear?


Surfer’s ear is an abnormal bone growth within the ear canal. Many may believe that a surfer’s ear and a swimmer’s ear are similar, while infection can be a result or a side effect of a swimmer’s ear, it is different.

Irritation from water exposure or cold wind can cause the bones surrounding the ear to develop lumps or a new bony growth which will constrict the ear canal. Due to this condition, the ear canal can become blocked, where wax and water can become trapped and start an infection. The condition is quite common among surfers who are also at a risk for exostosis due to evaporative cooling which is often caused by the presence of water and wind within the ear canal.

Many surfers have at least a few mild bone growths occurring that either cause little to no problems. While surfer’s ear condition can be progressive, which makes it important to take preventative measures early, especially when surfing. The condition is not limited to just the sport of surfing, it can occur in any activity including wet, cold, and windy conditions including kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, jet skiing, kitesurfing, and diving.

The first sign of noticing if you have  surfer’s ear is one ear will become a bit worse than others due to the prevailing wind direction when surfing, or the side of the ear that is most often struck by a wave first.

– Temporary or ongoing hearing loss, or decreased hearing
– Ear pain that increases the prevalence of ear infections
– Issues evacuating debris or water from the ear which causes a plugging sensation

What does surfer’s ear feel like?


If you believe you are dealing with surfer’s ear, you may feel sensations of the ear feeling plugged. There can be a feeling of itchiness inside of the ear as well. As more bone growths narrow within the ear canal, it can be more difficult to get water out of the ear after surfing or swimming.

One of the main symptoms that many know they have surfer’s ear, is recurring ear infections. This is often due to water becoming trapped within the ear and less air being unable to get into the ear canal to dry it out, which then increases the chances of infection growing. Bacteria within the water or other debris will lead to ear infections.

As the bone begins to intrude on the ear canal, the hearing will become diminished. If the ear canal block increases to 90 percent or greater, you will notice significant hearing loss.

How long does it take to develop surfers’ ears?


Surfer’s ear is not an overnight condition, it does take time to develop. Surfer’s ear can take on average 10 to 15 years for symptoms to appear. The bony growth within the ear isn’t harmful; however, a surfer’s ear can form lumps within the ear and cause issues. You may be unaware that the condition is even developing.

Symptoms of surfer’s ear can include:

– Water becoming trapped within the ear
– Hearing loss
– Recurrent ear infections

If you are unable to see your primary care physician to help treat your symptoms, they can become worse. If the lumps are quite big, the ear canal can close over completely, and lead to complete hearing loss.

Surfer’s ear as previously stated is due to the wind and cold water. The bony growth occurs due to the continuous change of the temperature within the ear canal.

What often will cause surfers’ ear is:

– The cold water is consistently swirling along the ear canal
– The body is then responding to it and will try to warm the affected area
– It will trigger the bone-producing cells within the ear canal
– Finally, will cause the bone around the ear to develop the bony growth

If the water is below 19 degrees Celsius regularly, you will more than likely start to get a surfer’s ear.

What is the treatment of a surfer’s ear?


If you are noticing symptoms of surfer’s ear and it is mild, the recommended course of action would be ear drops or antibiotics. Often a physician will provide a prescription with this.

If the symptoms are severe, you may be recommended surgery. Consult a physician if you are noticing symptoms of a surfer’s ear. To book an appointment, call us at either of our locations or visit us online. We serve patients from Lahaina HI, Kahului HI, Kihei HI, Launiupoko HI, Olowalu Hi, Wailuku HI, Kula HI, Makawao HI, Paia HI, Wailea HI, Haiku HI and Waihee-Waiehu HI.

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Lahaina, HI

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