Swimmer’s ear doesn’t necessarily come from spending too much time in the pool. Any scenario that involves water coming in contact with your ears—even showering—can lead to this painful condition. When water gets trapped in the ear canal, the canal becomes moist—a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and viruses. Although some might refer to swimmer’s ear as nothing more than a water-logged ear, true swimmer’s ear (otitis externa) is an infection of the skin lining the ear canal that leads to itchiness, drainage, swelling and pain.
If you’re suffering from swimmer’s ear, try one of these natural home remedies to relieve the pain and end the infection.
Vinegar: Both white vinegar and apple cider vinegar can be used to treat swimmer’s ear. Lie on your side with the infected ear facing up. Using an eye dropper, place a few drops of either vinegar into your ear. After a few minutes, get up and let the vinegar drain from your ear. Repeat this several times a day. The acidity of vinegar kills the bacteria and helps to clear the infection.
Got water in your ears? Trapped water can lead to swimmer's ear, a painful infection of the ear canal. Photo By Leo Kan/Courtesy Flickr.
Garlic: Garlic’s antibacterial and antiviral properties make it a great natural treatment for swimmer’s ear. Following the same instructions as above, place a few drops of garlic oil in your ear. Garlic oil can be bought at health food stores, or you can make it at home by grating several gloves of garlic into a dish of olive oil and letting it stand overnight.
Heat: Heat can serve as both treatment and relief from the pain of swelling and inflammation. Heat can help evaporate the water in your ear, drying out the moisture that the bacteria and viruses live on. Set a hair dryer to warm (not hot) and sway it over the infected ear. You can also try laying your head on a heating pad. (To avoid burns, wrap the pad in a towel first.)
Avoid the pain of swimmer’s ear by preventing water from entering your ear in the first place. Wear ear plugs when swimming, and shake your head after swimming or showering to remove any leftover water. You can even blow dry your ears or place a few drops of diluted apple cider vinegar in each ear as a preventive measure.