Practical Dive Care

by Mel McCombie

We’re on a long dive trip and wondering about some everyday practical things—diving with contact lenses, sun protection—and wondered what others have to say? For example, I dive with soft contact lenses; I notice that during dives, when my eyes encounter sea water, they create mucus (which I delicately term “eye boogers”), and I need to rinse out my contacts between dives. Recently, I switched to daily wear contacts, and I’ve noticed that they tend to absorb more from the sea, and clean up between dives less well than my old two-week wear/disinfect at night contacts. Any diving eye docs have a view on this? Is it just me? I’m thinking of switching to my old contacts during dive trips since they seem to stay cleaner.

Sunblock is both a necessity and a vexation. After years of trial and error, we have determined that sunblock made for babies, containing zinc or titanium oxide in an occlusive base, works well—we have found that sunblocks depending on a chemical formulation (avobensone, oxybenzone, etc., typical of Neutrogena’s Helioplex and Anthelios Cell-Ox) sting and hurt your eyes while your mask is on, made worse when you wear contact lenses. The downside of baby sunblock is its glowing white appearance. This trip, we are trying sunblock from Elta MD and find it less white but very effective. What do you do?

After applying sunblock, I always wash my hands carefully before diving to prevent getting sunblock on my mask. If you get sunblock in your mask, prepare for fogging. My favorite mask goo, 200 Foot Viz, is no longer made, and I’m trying out Spit (the brand, not saliva). Any ideas from other fans of 200 Foot Viz? My husband’s technique to clean the inside of a new mask is regular Colgate and an electric toothbrush, repeated about 10 times. What do you do?

I also clean off my custom molded mouthpiece on my reg with Colgate and the electric toothbrush. Minty fresh and cavity protection, and keeps the nasty brown stuff at bay. But the mouthpiece gets nasty fast. Ideas?

Ears also demand attention, and my diving ENT recommends displacing seawater with ethyl (grain) alcohol after diving. It’s cheap, effective, and can make a Bloody Mary in a pinch! What’s your favorite ear beer? For those rare instances when we get external otitis, we use CiproDex, a costly prescription ear drop that combines a steroid and antibiotic.

Time to put in fresh contact lenses! Hope readers can share their ideas!

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3 thoughts on “Practical Dive Care”

  1. per last post regarding the harm of sunscreen on coral reefs, forgot the link:

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  2. You might want to closely examine the chemicals in any sunscreens you are using. Research is showing many chemicals in sunscreen are harmful to coral. As if coral reefs are not already under enough stress

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  3. CeraVe InVisibleZinc uses zinc and titanium dioxide and isn’t nearly as white as some sunblocks. It’s available in stores. Neutrogena Sensitive Skin is nearly as good. I’ve read that the chemicals in sunblock damages coral so divers should be using only physical sunblocks anyway.

    Baby shampoo works well as a defogger and easily removes sunscreen & lotion in the process. It will also clean the neoprene skirt of lotions, sweat, and bacteria. Even use it on your reg mouthpiece. And it’s cheap. Further, spray a mixture of baby shampoo and water on your skin to make those wetsuits with the smooth rubber lining slide right on.

    Ears: a mixture of 50% rubbing/isopropyl alcohol and 50% vinegar. The trick is that it must remain in the ear for 5 min. (while you lie on your side) for the disinfecting property of the vinegar to work. DAN may still have an article on its website about this. In my 30 years of long diving trips, this mixture has kept outer ear infections at bay.

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