Font Size

Swimmer's Ear (cont.)

How can I get rid of swimmer's ear?

Treatment for swimmer's ear includes home remedies such as avoiding water exposure (such as swimming), applying heat to the affected ear to control pain, and over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen.

Medical treatment for swimmer's ear include medications prescribed for symptom relief; cleaning the affected ear; and at times, antibiotics, topical ear remedies, or acidifying, antiseptic, or anti-inflammatory agents.

What home remedies sooth ear pain and other symptoms?

Home care for swimmer's ear can be used to control pain temporarily. However, because OTC ear drops are not strong enough to cure the infection, a visit to a health-care professional for specific medications is needed. Swimmer's ear is usually not an emergency situation in most cases, so call your doctor for an appointment and use a home remedy to relieve symptoms in the meantime.

  • Avoid any further trauma to the ear. Do not attempt to remove visible debris or drainage from the ear.
  • Stop swimming or exposure to water until the condition improves.
  • Apply heat to the ear to control the pain at home. Warmth from a heating pad may provide some relief. Fold a towel in half and place it between the heating pad and the ear. Limit the use of the heating pad to short periods. The folded towel should help prevent accidental burning of the ear if the heating pad is too hot.
  • A white vinegar rinse may be used in mild cases of swimmer's ear to help restore the ear canal's natural pH and reduce swelling. Dilute white vinegar with equal parts water or rubbing alcohol. Do not use undiluted vinegar as it is too acidic and could cause further irritation. Lie down with the affected ear upward and fill the ear canal (ideally someone else will do this for you). Leave the solution of vinegar diluted with water or alcohol in for 5 minutes, then turn your head to the side and move the ear to drain the solution. Note: Do NOT do this if there is a hole in the eardrum or if you have ear tubes that have been inserted.
  • The American Academy of Otolaryngology does not recommend use of ear candles as a home remedy for swimmer's ear, as they may cause more injury to the ear.

What OTC medications sooth ear pain and other symptoms?

  • OTC pain medicines such as aspirin, ibuprofen (such as Advil), or acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) may be used for pain relief of swimmer's ear.
  • Nonprescription ear drops are not usually strong enough treatment to cure swimmer's ear. Such drops are useful only for prevention of episodes after water exposure. Ear drops used for treatment swimmer's ear must be obtained with a prescription from a doctor.
  • Do not try and treat the ear infection with drops purchased over-the-counter. This can make the affected ear worse and prolong recovery. Consult your health-care professional before using any ear drops for swimmer's ear.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/7/2015

Must Read Articles Related to Swimmer's Ear

Earache (Ear Pain)

Earache is pain in the ear. An earache...learn more >>

Ear Infection
Wilderness: Ear Infection An infection of the ear can be the ear canal (o...learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Swimmer's Ear:

Swimmer's Ear - Causes

What was the cause of your swimmer's ear?

Swimmer's Ear - Home Remedies

What home remedies have been effective for your swimmer's ear?

Swimmer's Ear - Symptoms

What symptoms and signs did you experience with swimmer's ear?

Swimmer's Ear - Experience

Please share your experience with swimmer's ear including home remedies and OTC drugs for soothing swimmer's ear pain and other symptoms.

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Otitis Externa »

Otitis externa is an inflammation or infection of the external auditory canal and/or auricle.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

Medical Dictionary