Irritation from Cold Wind and Water Can Lead to Painful Condition, Surfer’s Ear

Surfing is popular in all beach communities, Virginia Beach included.  But with surfing can come a painful and damaging condition many people know little about – Surfer’s Ear.

Surfer’s Ear shouldn’t be confused with Swimmer’s ear, which is a common infection of the outer ear canal. Surfer’s Ear is the common name for one or more bony growths or exostosis within the outer ear canal. These bony growths can be very small (such as the one seen below) or can grow very large. The larger these growths become, the more problems they cause and commonly, large exostosis can cause chronic infections, ear drainage, ear wax impactions, and even significant hearing loss.

What causes these bony growths to form? Irritation from cold wind and water exposure causes the bone surrounding the ear canal to develop lumps of new bony growth which constrict the ear canal. The conditions gets its name because it is very commonly seen among cold water surfers, although warm water surfers are also at risk for this condition. The condition is progressive, making it important to take preventative measures early (preferably whenever surfing).

The condition is not limited to surfing and can occur in any activity with cold, wet, windy conditions such as kayaking, sailing, jet skiing, kite surfing, and diving.

When these growths start to cause problems, surgery can be performed to remove them. Surgery is generally done on an outpatient basis and usually completely through the ear canal, without the need for any external scars.

The good news is that removing these growths will generally reverse any hearing loss caused by the growth and improve the condition of the ear canal.

+ Learn more about sinus and allergy treatment in Hampton Roads.

If you’re interested in learning more about allergy and sinus treatment options from Dr. Franzese and her team of specialists please call her office directly at (757) 889-5632.

About Dr. Christine Franzese
Christine Franzese, MD, FAAOA, is a board certified otolaryngologist. She completed a residency in Otolaryngology at University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. Dr. Franzese’s specialties include: allergies and allergy shots, sinus problems (acute and chronic), mild asthma, obstructive sleep apnea, thyroid masses or nodules, salivary gland disorders and nodules, and pediatric ENT issues (ear infections, tonsillitis). She has surgical expertise with removing tonsils and adenoids, thyroidectomies, parathyroidectomies, parotidectomies, and has extensive experience with sinus surgeries. She offers functional endoscopic sinus surgery, image-guided sinus surgery, and balloon sinuplasty procedures.

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