Surfing in cold water for a long time can be quite harmful for your ears and many surfers end up developing a condition called exostosis. Namely, water below 60 degrees can cause damage to one's ears, especially in the long run. In fact, 10 years of exposure to cold surfing water triggers exostosis in more than 80% of cases, while 20 years of exposure results in this condition in more than 90% of cases.
Moreover, even surfers who ride the waves of warm waters tend to be prone to this ear condition.
The Surfer's Ear
The surfer's ear is another common name for exostosis. This condition should not be mistaken for swimmer's ear which is a fungal or bacterial infection. Surfer's ear manifests through gradual bone growth which closes the ear canal in time. Then, the skin of the inside of the ear swells due to the cold water exposure and knobs get formed in order to prevent eardrum damage. The knobs grow together and, eventually block the ear canal, trapping wax and fluids in between, triggering infection.
Signs of the Surfer's Ear
If your earwax becomes more and more present and if you feel water blockages in your ears often, you might be suffering from the surfer's ear. Wearing hoods may keep your ears warmer during surfing, making the whole condition less prominent. However, it will not keep you completely safe from the growth of the knobs.
Preventing the Surfer's Ear
Wearing ear plugs may prevent cold water from entering your ears while you surf, protecting the area. Since there are numerous types of ear plugs available. You have to be careful when purchasing yours and avoid obtaining foam and plastic plugs. Alternatively, you can opt for swim plugs, but you will not be capable of hearing anything else while these are blocking your ears.
The best possible option is wearing specially designed Doc's Proplugs allow the sound to get inside the ear while preventing water from entering the area. What is more, combining this plug type with wearing a hood will keep your ears optimally safe.
Make sure your ears are dry by using a towel after each surfing session. Hair blowers can help you dry your ears too. A 50-50 white vinegar and alcohol solution will prevent any infections from taking place. Several drops of garlic oil may help as well.
If your ears are clogged already 3 or 4 drops of palm-warmed mineral oil or glycerin earwax solution will help you soften the earwax and force it out easily. Once it becomes softer, you may wash it out with warm water or hydrogen peroxide. Medical irrigation may be necessary if the above methods fail.