3 Natural Remedies for Swimmer's Ear

swimmer's ear
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Swimmers' ear can easily put a damper on fun in the water. An infection of the ear canal also known as otitis externa, this common condition can cause pain, inflammation, swelling, itching, and drainage of fluid from the ears. To help fight swimmer's ear, consider using these three natural remedies.

Vinegar and Rubbing Alcohol

You may lower your odds of developing swimmer's ear by making some do-it-yourself ear drops to use before hitting the water. Mix one part white vinegar with one part rubbing alcohol, pour one teaspoon of the solution into each ear, and allow the liquid to drain back out. This can prohibit the bacteria that allow swimmers' ear to develop.

You can also do this after swimming as another precaution.

If you have a punctured eardrum, avoid this treatment.

Garlic Oil Drops

A natural bacteria-fighter also helpful in staving off colds and boosting heart health, garlic can be used in treatment of swimmer's ear in the form of garlic oil.

You can purchase garlic ear oil at health food or natural remedy stores. You can also easily make your own garlic oil by grating several fresh cloves of garlic into a jar with extra virgin olive oil. Let this mixture sit overnight. Then, strain out the garlic pieces so you are left with the oil.

Using a dropper, place three to five drops of the oil in each ear and cover with a clean cotton ball. After 10-15 minutes, get up and let the oil drain out. You can use this remedy one to two times per day until your symptoms are relieved.

Do not to use this remedy if you have a punctured eardrum or if fluid is draining from your ear. You should also consult your doctor about using garlic oil in conjunction with standard treatment for swimmer's ear.

Heat Therapy

To lessen the ache of swimmer's ear, heat can help. Press a covered hot-water bottle, heating pad, or therapeutic heating wrap against the infected ear. Sometimes just a warm washcloth can also provide relief.

Prevention of Swimmer's Ear

To reduce your risk of swimmer's ear, avoid water with high bacteria levels (like lakes or rivers), wear ear plugs when you swim, adjust your swim cap so it doesn't trap water in your ear canal, and dry your ears thoroughly (with a cloth or blow-dryer switched to the lowest setting) after every time you swim.

Other Treatment

In order to protect yourself from a severe infection, it's important to consult a healthcare provider as soon as you notice any swimmer's ear symptoms. Your doctor will most likely clean out the infected ear and prescribe ear drops that help kill off bacteria and reduce inflammation.

A Word From VeryWell

If you're considering using natural remedies for swimmer's ear, make sure to consult your healthcare provider first. It's also important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

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Article Sources

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  • Hajioff D, Mackeith S. Otitis externa. Clinical Evidence 2008 26;2008. pii: 0510.