Note: If you are experiencing the signs and symptoms of swimmer’s ear, make sure to consult your doctor. Use home remedies only as an adjunct treatment.
Swimmer’s ear is an infection of the outer ear canal. It occurs in the tube that connects the opening of the ear to the eardrum. Medically, it is known as otitis externa.
The water left inside the ear canal after swimming, bathing or showering becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, which is the main cause of an outer ear infection. It can also be caused by a fungus or virus but that is less common.
Other causes include aggressive cleaning of the ear canal, excessive use of headphones or a hearing aid, and an allergy or irritation from jewelry, hair spray or hair dyes.
Mild symptoms of swimmer’s ear include swelling, redness, pain or discomfort, pus or fluid discharge, itching and muffled hearing.
Moderate or advanced progression of the infection can cause severe pain in the face, head or neck along with more intense itching, more extensive redness in the ear, feeling of fullness inside the ear, blockage of the ear canal, swollen lymph nodes and a fever.
The infection is not contagious, and usually it is not a serious issue if treated promptly.
However, any delay in the treatment can lead to complications, such as temporary hearing loss, a long-term infection, deep tissue infection, and bone and cartilage damage.
For a mild infection, there are many simple home remedies that can help reduce the infection and allow the ear canal to heal.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for swimmer’s ear.
1. White Vinegar
White vinegar is one of the most effective remedies for swimmer’s ear. Its slight acidic nature helps fight the infection by cleansing the ear and removing traces of bacteria.
- Combine equal amounts of white vinegar and rubbing alcohol in a bowl.
- Lie on your side with the infected ear facing up.
- Use a dropper to put 2 or 3 drops of the solution into your ear.
- Wait 5 minutes, then get up and tilt your head to allow the solution to drain out of your ear.
- Repeat this remedy 2 or 3 times a day.
2. Keep Ear Dry
Be it ear discharge or a severe infection, it is important to keep your ear as dry as possible. Any moisture in the ear will serve as a breeding ground for bacteria. To fight the infection, it is important to keep the growth of bacteria in check.
- After exposure to moisture from swimming or bathing, dry your ears thoroughly with a soft towel or cloth. Tilt your head to the side to help water drain out of your ear canal.
- You can also use a blow dryer to dry your ears. Put the blow dryer on the lowest setting and hold it at least 1 foot away from the ear.
- To prevent getting water in your ear canals when bathing, coat 2 cotton balls with petroleum jelly and put 1 in each of the outer ears.
3. Warm Compresses
If there are signs of pus formation or fluid discharge from the infected ear, try warm compresses. The heat will promote the flow of fluid and ease the pain.
- Soak a washcloth in hot water and wring out the excess water. Put the moist washcloth over the infected ear for 2 minutes, then tilt your head to promote fluid drainage. Take a break for 10 minutes and repeat the process as needed.
- Alternatively, put a heating pad wrapped in a towel on your bed. Lie down and put the infected ear on this heating pad for a few minutes at regular intervals.
4. Hydrogen Peroxide
Another effective remedy that you can try at home is hydrogen peroxide. This natural antibacterial agent helps dry out the fluid in the ear and eliminate the infection.
- Get 3 percent hydrogen peroxide from the market.
- Lie down and use a dropper to put 3 or 4 drops of it into the affected ear.
- Remain in that position for a couple of minutes.
- Then, tilt your head to allow the fluid to drain out of your ear.
- Repeat this remedy a couple of times a day.
Garlic is a good remedy to fight off ear infections. Its antimicrobial properties and natural pain-relieving qualities help kill the bacteria responsible for the infection and reduce the pain associated with it.
- Crush a few garlic cloves and add them to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Heat the oil until the garlic turns brown. Strain it and allow the oil to cool. Put 2 to 4 drops of this oil in the infected ear. Do this once or twice a day.
- Also, consume 2 to 3 raw garlic cloves daily to speed up the healing process.
Note: Do not use this garlic oil if fluid is draining from your ear.
6. Breast Milk
The use of breast milk is a popular remedy for ear infections. The natural antibodies in it help fight the infection quickly. It also alleviates swelling and pain.
- Lie down on your side with the infected ear facing upward.
- Using a dropper, put a few drops of breast milk into the infected ear.
- Wait for a couple of minutes, then tilt your head to drain out excess fluid.
- Repeat every few hours as needed.