Swimmer’s ear, also referred to as otitis externa, is the painful swelling of the outer ear canal caused by bacterial infection. Since the condition occurs due to increased accumulation of water in the ears, it is more common among those involved in regular swimming, diving, or water sports. There are some simple home remedies that might provide relief from the discomfort in the ears.
What to do for swimmers ear
Olive oil: Since it has antiseptic properties, putting few drops of warm olive oil into the affected ear may reduce the inflammation.
Rubbing alcohol: You can mix rubbing alcohol with either water or vinegar in equal amount for a homemade eardrop solution to treat the infected ear. It is believed to suppress the growth of bacteria.
White vinegar: Tilt your head to the side and put 3 to 4 drops of white vinegar into the swollen ear canal. After five minutes, turn your head towards the opposite direction to let the water and vinegar get drained out.
Garlic: Its antibiotic properties are believed to provide faster relief from the ear pain by helping in getting rid of the infection. Soak crushed garlic in olive oil overnight and strain the mixture the following day. Slightly warm the oil and put about 3 drops into the infected ear with a dropper.
Mineral oil: Applying few drops of mineral oil might help in relieving swimmers ear.
Onion: Being a natural disinfectant, it might be effective in eliminating the bacteria causing infection in the ear. Chop onion into half and heat it in the microwave. While lying on your side, squeeze the onion juice directly into the affected ear. Lie in this position for about ten minutes and get up to drain out the juice. You need to repeat this method several times a day for better results.
Tea tree and mineral oils: Add 2 teaspoons of mineral oil and 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil into a small bowl. Put about 2 drops of the oil mixture after warming it into the affected area with a dropper.
Apple cider vinegar: It is an effective remedy for swimmers ear due to the presence of acetic acid that prevents the growth of bacteria. Dilute apple cider vinegar with water or alcohol in equal parts and put 3 to 4 drops of the solution into the infected ear. Repeat the process on a daily basis until the pain reduces.
Coconut oil: Take about 20 ml (4 teaspoons) of warm coconut oil and apply it into the affected ear. After a while, the accumulated water and oil begin to drain out of the ear, helping in minimizing the swelling.
Baby oil: Put three drops of warm baby oil into the infected ear and cover it with a sterilized cotton ball for 2 minutes. Remove it and allow the water to get drained out along with the oil.
Ways to get rid of swimmers ear at home
Saline water: Fill saline water into a bulb syringe and use it to rinse the infected ear.
Heat compress: Wrap a towel around a heating pad set at the minimum temperature and place it over the affected ear for a while. Alternatively, you can use a salt pillow that can be made by placing about 1/2 cup of warm salt on a clean cloth and sewing all the sides. Keep the pillow below your head while lying sideways for warming the ear.
Hydrogen peroxide: Apply 4 to 5 drops of hydrogen peroxide using a dropper into the infected ear. After a while, tilt your head to the side for flushing out the trapped water.
Colloidal silver: Put three drops of colloidal silver into the affected ear. After five minutes, turn your head to the other side for draining out the water. Although it has antimicrobial properties, do not use this remedy more than two times a day.
Hair dryer: One of the rapid methods to remove the accumulated water is by holding a hair dryer set at a lower temperature few inches away from the infected ear. Repeat this procedure 3 to 4 times a day until the infection gets completely cleared.
Swimmers ear over-the-counter treatment
In severe cases, using over the counter antibiotic eardrops is advisable for quick pain relief. Other OTC medications such as naproxen (Aleve), ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), and acetaminophen (Tylenol) are known to be effective in reducing ear infection.
How to prevent swimmers ear
- Do not put any object in your ears such as hairpin, pencil, cotton ball, or paper clip in an attempt to remove earwax
- Wear earplugs or swim caps while swimming to prevent the water from entering the ears
- Use a clean towel to dry your ears after bathing or swimming
- Avoid swimming if you had a recent ear surgery or infection
- Do not expose your ears to hair care products such as sprays and dyes
- Use a hair dryer set at the lowest temperature to dry the ears and clear up any trapped water. Make sure to keep the dryer one foot away from the ear.
If you still experience pain and irritation in your ears even after using these home remedies then getting in touch with a doctor is necessary to avoid severe complications.