10 Ways To Cure & Avoid Swimmer’s Ear

If you grew up with a swimming pool or swam on a swim team, chances are you’ve likely had swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear (otitis externa) is an inflammation of the external ear canal. It occurs when water is stuck in the ears after swimming, hence the name. This retained moisture speeds bacterial growth, leading to infection.

Luckily, many treatments for swimmer’s ear can relieve symptoms, shorten the lifespan of the infection, or even prevent it from ever happening! Read on to learn about cures for swimmer’s ear…

1. Over-the-counter Painkillers

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Doctors often prescribe analgesics such as ibuprofen (Advil), acetaminophen (Tylenol), or naproxen sodium (Aleve) to relieve swimmer’s ear pain. Of course, you can also grab these medications over-the-counter at your local drugstore.

But painkillers only do half the work, so to kill the bacteria, we need…

2. Antibiotics

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Antibiotics have a stronger effect than analgesics as they kill the infection-causing bacteria, rather than simply relieve symptoms. Single Care notes that ciprofloxacin and Cortisporin Otic are appropriate antibiotics to treat otitis externa. 

Some medications beat the infection in a more direct way, though…

3. Store-bought Ear Drops


Swimmer’s ear is often treated with ear drops, which are a diluted combination of various medications. These drops are applied about 3-4 times a day for about a week. People typically start showing improvements in about 3 days, although they will need to continue taking drops for as long as the direction label states to reduce the odds of the infection recurring.

Never underestimate the power of ordinary household items for a swimmer’s ear treatment…

4. Homemade Ear Drops

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You can make your own eardrops at home with just vinegar and rubbing alcohol! This combination helps eliminate bacterial growth. To make this mixture, mix 1 part white vinegar with 1 part rubbing alcohol into a small container and pour about a teaspoon’s amount of the solution into each ear with a dropper.

The following method is used when the ear canal becomes too inflamed…

5. Ear Wicks

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Wicks help let the ear drops pass through when the ear canals become too swollen to let them through. Dr. Ariel Waitzman recommends that these wicks should be removed after 2 or 3 days and replaced if still necessary.

Your travel goals might have to wait for a while if you have swimmer’s ear…

6. Avoid Flying

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Flying in an airplane with a swimmer’s ear infection can cause severe ear pain. It’s all because the change in pressure can affect the eardrum. Doctors often suggest alternative modes of transport or delaying travel altogether until the infection clears out.

As far as another preventative measure goes…

7. Be Careful With Cosmetics


Hairsprays, dyes, or other liquid beauty products can irritate the skin and trigger or exacerbate ear infections. If the need arises, cover the ear canal with a clean cotton ball to keep fluids from entering.

Keeping pressure away from the ears is very important…

8. Don’t Put Anything Hard On Your Ear

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To keep your ears from feeling pressure, try not to put on earplugs, headphones, or anything before the infection has cleared away, as these can irritate the ears as well.

As always, prevention is always better than the cure…

9. Keep The Ears Dry


As much as possible, avoid getting water in your ear canal when you take a shower, swim, or dive. You can use a clean cotton ball with petroleum jelly to cover them and keep moisture out.

Sometimes the best remedies don’t cost much, though…

10. Avoid Underwater Activities For A While

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Steering clear of activities that involve swimming or diving avoids all chances of getting swimmer’s ear infections altogether. But taking precautionary measures like avoiding polluted bodies of water and properly protecting the ears are likewise recommended.

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