At-Home Treatment for Swimmer's Ear

Happy Kids Swimming Underwater in Pool

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When swimmers come across the itchy, annoying and painful symptoms of swimmer's ear, it can result in a trip to the doctor's office for a round of prescription antibiotics and painkillers. What some people don't know is that many of these doctor's visits don't have to be the first line of treatment. There are some things you can try at home. If symptoms do not get better within a few days—or if they get worse—get to the doctor!

Prevention is Key

According to the Mayo Clinic, self-care steps can be used to treat most cases of swimmer's ear without the use of prescriptions or visits to your local doctor's office. Swimmer's ear, or otitis externa, is a painful infection of the skin lining the ear canal, often brought on by exposure to water. Four out of every 1,000 people are affected annually by swimmer's ear including children and adults alike, but the risk increases for avid swimmers who are constantly in the water. Also, experts say that once an individual has contracted swimmer's ear, the risk of contracting it again is significantly higher.

To limit the risk of becoming infected with swimmer's ear be sure to:

  • Keep your ears dry.
  • Dry your outer ear thoroughly after exposure to moisture from swimming or bathing with a clean towel (the Ear Dryer might do this for you, too).
  • Never insert your finger or any sharp or hard object into your ear.
  • Avoid swimming in polluted water.

Heal the Infection at Home

Note: If you have already developed symptoms of an ear infection, have a history of ear ache problems, perforated eardrums, ear tubes, or other possible complications, consult a physician. If in doubt, consult a physician

If you do develop simmer's ear, before making a trip to the doctor and turning to prescription antibiotics to deal with swimmer's ear, try following these easy tips to heal the infection at home:

  • Place a warm (not hot) heating pad over or against your ear to help reduce pain.
  • Keep your ear dry while it's healing.
  • Use earplugs when showering or bathing.
  • Don't swim or clean your ears until the infection is gone.
  • Try commercially available over the counter ear drops. Some of the ear drops available without a prescription that may help treat or prevent swimmer's ear include:

If, after three days, the symptoms persist, it is recommended that you see a doctor.

These handy tips should help to clear up many cases of swimmer's ear and help ensure your next visit to the pool doesn't end with a trip to the doctor's office.