What Is a Home Treatment for Swimmer's Ear?


Quick Answer

An at-home, preventative treatment for swimmer's ear is a mixture of equal amounts of vinegar and rubbing alcohol, according to Mayo Clinic. Other preventative treatments include drying the ears after swimming and avoiding putting foreign objects in the ear. If the infection develops, it requires medical treatment.

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Making a solution that is 50 percent warm water and 50 percent vinegar, or consists of salt and water, allows for treatment of the infection in the ear. Placing the solution inside a bulb syringe and rinsing the ear gently, using water that is close to body temperature, minimizes the risk of dizziness. People who experience itching in the ear should also try over-the-counter eardrops for swimmers, such as Swim-Ear or Star-Otic. Applying these drops before and after getting water on and in the ears also makes an excellent preventive measure for swimmer's ear, notes WebMD.

Setting a heating pad on low or soaking a washcloth in warm water makes a home treatment for pain resulting from swimmer's ear. The ear may drain a bit as the heat melts some of the earwax. However, heating pads are not recommended for children or while in bed, as the user may drift off to sleep and burn himself. Ear candles are also not recommended, as there is no proof that they help with swimmer's ear, and they can lead to severe injury, as stated by WebMD.

Swimmer's ear is a bacterial or fungal infection of the outer ear canal between the eardrum and outside of the ear. It often occurs after swimming in polluted water. Prompt medical attention is necessary to prevent swimmer's ear from developing into a more serious condition or conditions, explains Mayo Clinic. If the swelling is severe, the doctor places a wick inside the ear canal to facilitate drainage and ensure the eardrops reach the ear canal. In advanced cases, patients require oral antibiotics. Heat helps to reduce the pain.

Medical treatment for swimmer's ear includes the doctor cleaning the ear canal to allow the medication to reach its entire length and use of eardrops containing a combination of an acidic solution, antibiotics and steroids. If the infection is fungal in nature, an antifungal medication replaces the antibiotic, notes Mayo Clinic. The acid restores the pH of the ear canal to its normal antibacterial environment, while the steroid reduces swelling.

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