Medically speaking, it’s an infection of the outer ear canal. Most people know it as ‘swimmer’s ear.’ The problem with this title is that it’s not very descriptive. In fact, it’s even deceptive. Many people think that, because they’re not swimmers, or because they don’t swim very often, they won’t get swimmer’s ear. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. If you’re someone who showers or bathes (and hopefully you are), you can get swimmer’s ear. Though it is true that swimmers tend to experience it more often (hence, the name), it’s also true that all it takes is one time of excessive moisture to get into your ear for you to develop an outer ear canal infection. The symptoms of swimmer’s ear are easy to know, and of swimmer’s ear treatments, there are several. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you likely have swimmer’s ear: redness in the ear canal; pain in the ear canal; discharge from the ear, either an odorless, colorless fluid, or in more severe cases, pus discharge; muffled hearing; full feeling within the ear (caused by swelling and/or blockage). If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, your swimmer’s ear infection has progressed, and it’s important to see a doctor: severe pain that may have radiated to face, neck, inside the head; fever; swelling of lymph nodes. The good news, though, about swimmers ear is that there are home remedies that can reduce or even eliminate your symptoms.
Swimmer’s ear typically is caused by excess water or moisture that gets into the ear canal. But it doesn’t always happen just because you’ve been swimming or showering. Outer ear canal infections are bacteria in the ear canal, and this can occur from improper cleaning of the ear, such as when using a cotton swab or other item such as a hair pin or pencil in the ear. Most healthcare professionals strongly advise against this, as it can cause scratches or abrasions within the ear that allow in bacteria that can grow and cause infection. If you’re experiencing swimmer’s ear, try one of these home remedies for treatment:
Extra virgin olive oil has been used for centuries to reduce or even eliminate the effects of an outer ear canal infection, and it can be quite effective. For this one to work, warm a few drops of extra virgin olive oil and place these inside the affected ear canal. Cover with a cotton ball to prevent the oil from draining before it’s done its work. Keep it in for 20 minutes to a half hour.
Baby oil is another effective means of reducing or eliminating swimmer’s ear. Use baby oil as you would the home remedy that uses olive oil, simply substitute baby oil. This is also an effective way to prevent swimmer’s ear.
Garlic oil has known inflammation reducing properties. Again, simply warm the garlic oil, place a few drops into the ear canal, and hold in with a cotton ball. Garlic oil is a great choice if you’re looking to boost your immunity.
A heating pad (or hot compress, if you don’t have a heating pad) can be another effective home remedy for swimmer’s ear. Hold a heating pad or hot compress against the affected ear. The heat will help to evaporate that excess moisture, thereby reducing the pain and other symptoms of the swimmer’s ear.
White vinegar and rubbing alcohol
A mixture of white vinegar and rubbing alcohol is effective for fighting and killing bacteria. Rinse your ears with a cotton ball soaked in equal parts of white vinegar and rubbing alcohol. Hold it to your ear and, if necessary, cover with a clean cloth or more cotton balls to prevent the mixture from leaking out.
Yes, you read that right. A blow dryer can help to reduce the effects of swimmer’s ear. Simply set your blow dryer to a low setting (that won’t burn your ear). Then hold it about 15 inches away from your ear to dry out excess moisture.
There are a number of swimmer’s ear treatments available. If you’ve tried any of the home remedies above for your outer ear canal infection, but you find your swimmer’s ear hasn’t gone away, or you’re still experiencing some of the symptoms, you can also try some of the outer-the-counter swimmer’s ear treatments available on the market today. These can be found at just about any grocery store, supermarket, drug store, or even superstore in your area. Or you can contact your healthcare professional for medical swimmer’s ear treatment options.