Surfer's ear is the common name for exostosis or abnormal bone growth within the ear canal. 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. Where the ear canal is actually blocked by this condition, water and wax can become trapped and give rise to infection.
Most avid surfers have at least some mild bone growths (called exostoses). The condition is progressive, making it important to take preventative measures early, preferably whenever surfing. The widespread use of wetsuits has allowed people to surf in much colder waters, which has increased the incidence and severity of surfer's ear for people who do not properly protect their ears.
Prevention includes avoiding activity during extremely cold or windy conditions and keeping the ear canal as warm and dry as possible preferably by ear plugs. We can help by keeping the ears free of wax and other debris and fitting you for custom-made ear plugs.