Home Remedies for Swimmer’s Ear

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If you think you have to complete a couple of laps in a pool to develop swimmer’s ear, think again – this infection of the ear can arise just by taking a shower and tilting your head at an angle. When it comes to home remedies for swimmers ear, the object is to dry out the ear canal to discourage the growth of offending bacteria or fungi, as well as treat the discomfort.

Home Remedies for Swimmers Ear

What is Swimmer’s Ear?

Known as ‘otitis externa’ in medical circles, swimmer’s ear is an infection of the outer ear that also brings inflammation to the ear canal [1]. The condition takes place when water becomes trapped in your ears, resulting in growing bacteria or fungi. It also emerges when a breakdown of your natural defenses occurs, including skin abrasions caused by Q-Tips; humid weather conditions that have thinned out your cerumen (a waxy substance that protects the ear canal); and rashes associated with skin sensitivities.

Symptoms of Swimmers Ear

Mild symptoms usually appear during the first sign of swimmer’s ear, but can easily worsen if the infection is not treated or decides to spread. Initially, the ear canal will itch with slight redness of the surrounding skin. Discomfort and some drainage of an odorless fluid is commonplace. Oftentimes, it is the tragus – the triangular piece of cartilage covering the front of the ear canal that suffers the most pain.

When the condition is left untreated, the skin becomes increasingly red with excessive fluid drainage. Pus may appear. The ear may feel ‘full’ accompanied by decreased hearing. In its severest form, swimmer’s ear can cause [2]:

  • Unbearable pain
  • Swelling in your ear
  • Swollen lymph nodes in your neck
  • Swelling of outer ear
  • Scaly or flaking skin of outer ear

Some factors place individuals at a higher risk for suffering otitis externa, such as a narrow or hairy ear canal; living in a warm climate with humidity; suffering from eczema or dry skin; having little or no earwax; or possessing a long history of ear infections. Now that we know what it is, lets learn about simple home remedies for swimmers ear below.

Home Remedies for Swimmer’s Ear

While most people with swimmer’s ear can easily treat their symptoms without any complications, about 1% of cases come back again. This reoccurrence is attributed to hard-to-kill bacteria that settle in the ear and it’s your duty to keep the infection under control. A couple of home remedies to consider include:

a) Hot Water Bottle:

Provide soothing relief to your ear by resting on top of a hot water bottle. Wrap the bottle in a towel so that it doesn’t burn the skin. The same results can be achieved with a heating pad at its lowest setting.

b) Garlic:

Garlic possesses strong antibacterial relief for the body and can be used to treat an ear infection. While some people buy garlic oil at the local health food store, others save money and make their own. In a shallow dish, grate medium cloves of garlic and cover with olive oil. Allow the mixture to marinate overnight. Before applying three drops of garlic oil into an affected ear, strain out the pieces of garlic.

c) Rubbing Alcohol and Distilled White Vinegar:

Treat an itchy ear infection by combining equal parts of rubbing alcohol and distilled white vinegar. Using a sterile eyedropper, place a couple of drops into your ear. Make sure to tilt your head so that the mixture enters the ear canal. Tugging on your earlobe will also ensure that the solution reaches further into the canal. For a few minutes, keep your head tilted or lie down. When ready, sit up straight and tilt your ear toward your shoulder to allow excess drainage to escape. Hold a tissue to your ear to catch the liquid.

d) Vinegar:

If your ear is in pain, blend a little bit of vinegar with water and administer a couple of drops into your ear.

e) Baby Oil:

Heat a small amount of baby oil. Allow the oil to warm to the point where you can place it in the ear using a dropper. To avoid drainage of the oil, situate a cotton ball to your ear.

f) Hair Dryer:

When water has become trapped in the ear, turn towards a hair dryer to evaporate water molecules. On a warm setting, use a side-to-side motion.

g) Mineral Oil:

If you must go into the water with swimmer’s ear or want added protection, place mineral oil into your ears before going for a swim or taking a steamy shower.

Home Remedies for Swimmers Ear Resources

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swimmers_ear
[2] http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/swimmers-ear/DS00473/DSECTION=symptoms