how to wash my hair without getting any water in my ear
March 1, 2015 8:12 AM   Subscribe

I got my eardrum repaired last week. The doctor said I have to be careful for the next two months to not get any water in my ear canal. So how do I keep my hair clean?

I recently got my eardrum repaired (a tympanoplasty), and they had to make an incision behind my ear. I am a woman with medium-length hair, so I I need a way to wash my hair somehow for the next 2 months without getting water in my ear. Is there a good way to cover up my ear while I take a normal shower? I have to avoid anything that puts pressure on my eardrum, which means, I think, that ear plugs are out. Any other suggestions? I don't want to be a weird greaseball until May!
posted by colfax to Health & Fitness (20 answers total)
Have you tried dry shampoo? There's a bunch of brands available at places like Walgreen's.
posted by marimeko at 8:17 AM on March 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

This seems like a question your doctor could answer.
posted by amro at 8:20 AM on March 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Here you go...

to quote: To keep water out of your ear when showering and bathing, place
half of a cotton ball rolled in ~1 tablespoon of petroleum jelly. The
cotton ball should be saturated with petroleum
jelly and not have any dry exposed areas.
Place this over the bowl of the outer ear. Do
not shove the cotton ball into the ear canal.
Smooth the edges of the cotton ball down to ensure a watertight
seal. See picture.
Use a new cotton ball every time you shower.
posted by HuronBob at 8:22 AM on March 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

The cotton ball with vaseline method is what I was told to use when I had a similar operation. That and being careful to not let the shower spray directly at the ear worked.
posted by plastic_animals at 8:33 AM on March 1, 2015

Do you have a fixed showerhead, or one of those detachable hand-held kinds? It might be worth installing the latter type - they give you GREAT precision over where the water goes. They're also awesome if you dye your own hair at home.
posted by julthumbscrew at 8:35 AM on March 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have to avoid anything that puts pressure on my eardrum

I think those moldable silicone earplugs that swimmers use might work for you. It's more of a cover the ear hole than a fill the ear hole kind of thing.

You could also rubber band a plastic baggie over your ear, like a tiiiny little shower cap just for the ear. I have pretty stiff ear cartilage so this would work for me; if you are a mushy ear person it might not work.
posted by phunniemee at 8:43 AM on March 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

The cotton ball with vaseline is the standard method - have had several ear surgeries. It doesn't need anything like a tablespoon of vaseline though - just enough to well coat the cotton ball.
posted by leslies at 8:47 AM on March 1, 2015

If the cotton ball/Vaseline trick doesn't work for you, ask your Doctor about pro plugs. ENT practices usually keep them around for kids who have tubes, but they usually have adult sizes as well. They're ear shaped, but don't form too much of a seal (although double checking with your doc is a good idea).
posted by ghost phoneme at 9:38 AM on March 1, 2015

For the incision behind your ear, can your doc put on a waterproof bandage? That was a godsend for me when I had surgery.
posted by radioamy at 10:40 AM on March 1, 2015

In the locker room, I saw a great bandage for cellulitis (infection in the skin, very hard to protect). She used "press and stick" food wrap (in US, "Saran wrap") in layers. If the rubber band & Baggie doesn't fit, try layering on some food wrap. The locker room woman didn't need any tape, but that would be possible too.

Healthy hearing being important, it might be time for a shorter cut, which will give you more places to stick the tape.
posted by Jesse the K at 11:19 AM on March 1, 2015

Also, don't run the water at full pressure.
posted by virago at 11:32 AM on March 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Beauty supply stores like Sally sell ear covers for dyeing hair without burning ears. They elastic around the ear and are plastic.
posted by bookdragoness at 12:41 PM on March 1, 2015

When I had tubes in my ears as a kid I was allowed to swim and shower like normal (except no diving) as long as I had the cotton ball/vaseline routine. I also sometimes splurged and got my hair washed at a salon so I could just not worry about it.
posted by jessamyn at 1:08 PM on March 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I recently had an ear procedure and the doctor gave me wax-like (probably silicone?) ear plugs similar to Mack's Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs. I found them annoying but, I guess, effective, in that they made me hyper-conscious of my ear while showering. Next time I'll seek out the beauty-supply store ear protectors, now that I know that they exist.
posted by Morrigan at 3:30 PM on March 1, 2015

The cotton ball/Vaseline thing plus the beauty-supply store ear protectors worked well for me.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 6:42 PM on March 1, 2015

I'd check with my doctor first, of course, but those silicone earplugs are amazing and super-effective and don't go in the ear canal so they should be just fine for you.
posted by you're a kitty! at 7:32 PM on March 1, 2015

Hi, everyone. Thanks for your answers. I'm going to ask my doctor about it tomorrow too, but I get a little flustered sometimes at the doctor's and forget to ask stuff. I'm also doing all of this in a foreign country where I'm not great at the language, and that makes everything a bit harder. Anyway, it's very reassuring to have your ideas. Thanks for the help!
posted by colfax at 3:52 AM on March 2, 2015

Mack's wax earplugs go over the war canal, not in, and are the type recommended by the ENT after my son had tubes put in.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 3:59 AM on March 2, 2015

A lot of divers I see will use these to keep their ears dry while scuba diving, might be worth a shot.
posted by danapiper at 10:35 AM on March 2, 2015

these are a novelty product but I bet they'd work -

and my dollar tree sells boxes of dish covers that are essentially the same thing, though they come in much bigger sizes. But i bet the smallest size would work. They're called "Stor-It Bowl Cover Ups" and they're in the aisle with aluminum foil and saran wrap.
posted by lemniskate at 8:40 AM on March 5, 2015

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