Surfer’s Ear and Getting Water Out Of Your Ears

Last updated on: January 23, 2023
surfer's ear and getting water out your ear

Surfer's ear

One common ailment for surfers is the dreaded surfer’s ear (exostoses), a bony growth inside the ear, and various blocked ears.

The most crucial step in looking after your ears as a surfer is to get the water out of your ears and have your ear canals dry. This may seem obvious, but as any surfer will know, it’s not as easy as that.

7 tips to getting water out of your ears

As surfers, we have a few tips that can help you to get water out of your ears or even prevent the problem from occurring in the first place. Let’s go through our recommendations:

Make gravity do the work

The first and most simple step is to let gravity do the work for you. This method will solve the problem in most cases, and you will naturally feel the need to do it.

When water is stuck in your ear, you need to tilt your head to the affected side to help drain the ear. If you take a few minutes to lay down, placing the affected ear on a pillow or towel, gravity will often do the work for you.

Tug on your earlobe

If you don’t feel the release when tilting your head toward the affected ear, then try to gently tug on your earlobe at the same time, this will create some extra space in the ear canal.

Move your jaw

Another step you can try to help drain the water that’s stuck in your ear is to add some jaw movement. Move your jaw gently by yawning or chewing, while you do the two steps above. This process will create pressure in the eustachian tubes, releasing the built-up water in your ears.

The valsalva maneuver

Most of us are familiar with this technique from Scuba diving or airline travel. In both scenarios, our ears tend to build up pressure that needs to be released to not cause any pain/damage to our ears.

To apply this technique, you need to close your mouth, plug your nose, and gently blow it using modest force. This technique will help to equalize the pressure in your ears and drain any water that’s stuck.

The vacuum technique

The last thing you can try, without the use of any appliances, is the vacuum technique. Simply place your palm over the plugged-up ear creating a tight seal, then hold it for a few seconds, preferably with your head tilted sideways. You can increase the effect by gently pushing your hand back and forth toward your ear in a rapid motion, creating a suction effect that will help loosen any pressure in the ear. The vacuum effect should eventually help drain the trapped water from your ear.


A practical method of getting water out of your ear is to use a hairdryer. Put on medium speed, and medium heat, a slow and constant blow from a hairdryer will eventually dry your ears out and get rid of water from the ears. But you have to be very careful when using heat.

There are USB-based mini-hair dryers that can plug into your car cigarette lighter port. You can use it immediately you get out of the water.

Alcohol-based ear drops

Suppose the water is stuck, and it has mixed with wax or is stuck behind the wax. In that case, alcohol-based ear drops will soften the wax, mix with the water, and eventually, the alcohol will dry out and dry the water in your ears at the same time.

How to prevent surfers ear

It is good to know how to get water out of your ears to prevent getting ‘surfers ear’, but why not prevent water from getting stuck in your ears in the first place?

Silicone plugs

Many people use moldable silicone earplugs while surfing. When heated by the hand and by movement, the silicone can be moulded to fit the ear and will remain in place while surfing.

However, suppose it were to fall out and need to be remoulded and stuck back in. In that case, the silicon forms a second function of removing water from the inner crevices of the ear.

Surfing earplugs

The best method of preventing water in the ears is to wear swimming earplugs for surfing. This will stop any water from getting in there in the first place.
Wearing a wetsuit hood will help this, and keep the earplugs in place. The silicone earplugs are also effective.

The best advise

The best advice is, to not stick anything in your ears. Sticking an earbud in your ears can possibly push wax deeper and trap water behind it.

Many medical professionals advise against sticking anything into your ears whatsoever, but sometimes a tiny piece of tissue paper, formed into a point, can be used to absorb small drops of water. It is not firm enough to push wax further in but can help in getting water out of your ears.

It is good advice for surfers to have their ears syringed with warm water by a professional on a regular basis.

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