Swimmer’s ear is caused by an infection of the outer ear canal, the portion of the ear that runs from the outside of your head to the eardrum. This can be caused by water remaining in the ear after you have been swimming, which creates a moist environment that is ideal for bacteria to grow. In most cases, this condition can be treated with medicated eardrops. However, swimmer’s ear home remedies can also be helpful. Treating swimmer’s ear quickly can help you avoid a more severe infection or other complications.
Swimmer’s Ear Home Remedies
1. Drain the Water Out
Try to avoid allowing water into the ears when you swim. If you feel as though water is in your ear or you can hear water swishing around in the ear, shake the head in the direction of the affected ear to dislodge the excess moisture.Do not stick your fingers or a cotton swab in the ear when you are trying to get excess water out. This can irritate the skin and cause more damage.
2. Rinse the Ear Gently
One of the swimmer's ear home remedies is to try warm rinsing. Fill a bulb syringe with a warm saline solution or a homemade solution of equal parts warm water and white vinegar. Ensure that these solutions are room temperature as very hot or cold solutions can cause irritation or dizziness. Gently flush these solutions in the ear to help relieve the excess pressure caused by water becoming trapped here.
3. Try Heat Therapy
Applying a warm washcloth or heating pad set to the lowest side of the head that is affected by water in the ear can provide some relief. This can help melt your earwax so it can be removed more easily. Do not use a heating pad in bed, particularly if you are alone. You may fall asleep and accidentally burn yourself. Also avoid using heading pads on children for similar reasons.
4. Add Some Eardrops
Placing ear drops with antiseptic like Swim Ear, Aqua Ear or Ear Magic in the ears can help ease the symptoms of swimmer’s ear. If you have a normal eardrum it should be safe to use homemade eardrops.
In a clean squeeze bottle, mix equal parts white vinegar and rubbing alcohol. Place a small amount of this moisture in a dripper and place a few drops in the affected ear to help kill off any fungus or bacteria inside. If you are worried about developing swimmer’s ear, placing a few drops of a water and vinegar mixture in your ear can help dry out the ears so that an infection will not take hold.
5. Natural Oils
Natural oils is one of the swimmer's ear home remedies you can try. Pour olive oil into a bowl and grate a few pieces of garlic into it. Allow this mixture to sit overnight, and then strain away the garlic pieces. Warm the oil slightly, ensuring that it is not hot, then pour approximately three drops into the ear to provide relief. Placing a few drops of mineral oil into the ear before you go swimming can help you prevent contracting an infection.
Mixing white vinegar with water can create a soothing solution for the ear. Place a few drops in the ear using a dropper to help ease the itchiness of swimmer’s ear. Mixing white vinegar with rubbing alcohol and applying the mixture in the ear can help clear up an infection more quickly.
While swimmer's ear home remedies can be effective in this condition, it is best that you take some measures to prevent it from happening in the first place.
- Watch for Swimming Places. Swimming in the ocean, ponds or lakes may not be clean. Natural water sources or those that are unclean can expose you to more bacteria, increasing your risk of swimmer’s ear.
- Wear a Tight Swim Cap. Wearing a swim cap can help protect the ears so excess moisture will not find its way inside. This may not be helpful for those that regularly submerge their heads in water such as athletic swimmers.
- Pay Attention to Diets. There are no specific dietary requirements that you need to follow when treating swimmer’s ear. Eating a diet that has plenty of vitamins and minerals such as lean meats, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help you improve your overall health. Increasing your intake of vitamin C by eating leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, strawberries, oranges, lemons, papayas, guavas or kiwi can boost your immune system helping you to fight off the infection.
When to See a Doctor
If you notice that the pain in your ear is getting worse or the opening to your ear canal, the ear canal or the external skin entering the ear canal becomes red or swollen your infection may be becoming worse. Check for drainage that is not earwax or any drainage that has an unpleasant smell. If the pain in your ear lasts longer than a week, you begin to develop dizziness or unsteadiness or any of your symptoms become more severe, you should seek medical attention.