Swimmer's Ear Infection (External Otitis)

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideEar Infection Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Ear Infection Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

What natural home remedies treatments help cure swimmer's ear?

Regardless of the cause, moisture and irritation will prolong the course of the problem. Removing water from the ears after swimming or water exposure also can help prevent swimmer's ear. Natural and home care for swimmer's ear includes measures such as:

  1. Keep the ears dry. While showering or swimming use an ear plug (one that is designed to keep water out), or use cotton with Vaseline on the outside to plug the ears.
  2. Scratching the inside of the ear or using cotton swabs should be avoided. This will only aggravate the irritated skin, and in most situations will make the condition worse.
  3. A hearing aid should be left out as much as possible until swelling and discharge stops.
  4. Follow your doctor's instructions for use of medications and do not stop using the medications until instructed to do so by your doctor. Use of a wick may be necessary for antibiotic treatment if the ear canal is very swollen.
  5. A homemade ear drip mix of 50% rubbing alcohol, 25% white vinegar, and 25% distilled water can be used to slightly acidify the ear canal can be used for prevention of infections as well as mild infection caused by bacteria or fungus.

What about swimmer's ear in children?

Swimmer's ear may develop in children after swimming in natural water sources or taking part in other water activities. The child may complain of intense pain on movement of the ear, itching, or a sense of fullness. Discharge from the ear may occur. Treatment involves antibiotics, pain control medications, and sometimes antihistamines to reduce itching. Ear symptoms in children can also arise from middle ear infections (otitis media) or foreign bodies in the ear. Your doctor can determine whether your child's ear pain is due to swimmer's ear or another condition.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/26/2016

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