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Swimmer's Ear (cont.)

Can swimmer's ear be prevented?

  • Use of shower caps while bathing and earplugs while swimming will help keep water out of the ear canal.
  • The best earplugs are often soft balls of special wax. The wax can be purchased at most pharmacies. Simply roll a small ball of wax in your hands and press it into the outer ear.
  • Many individuals make their own ear plugs by placing a cotton ball coated with Vaseline in the ear.
  • Homemade ear drops also help prevent swimmer's ear after water exposure.
    • Make a 50:50 mixture of white vinegar and rubbing alcohol for use after swimming or exposure to water. Apply 3-4 drops in each ear canal after swimming. This helps dry the canal and maintain the acidic environment of the ear canal.
  • Avoid placing objects in the ear that can scrape or scratch the skin of the canal because this may cause an infection.
  • Do not use cotton swabs to remove earwax from the ears. More often than not, this ends up pushing wax father into the ear canal and making problems worse.
  • Dry ears thoroughly after swimming or showering with a fresh, dry towel.

What is the prognosis for someone with swimmer's ear?

Ear drops are usually placed into the ear canal two to three times a day. It is helpful to have a second person put the ear drops in while the patient lies on their side with the affected ear facing up. The person should lie on the opposite side of the head when the drops are placed to allow the drops to soak in the ear, and not run out of the ear canal (if the patient prematurely stands up).

Swimmer's ear clears up within a week for most people. Pain generally goes away within 24 hours if appropriate therapy is used.

Failure to promptly reduce pain and swelling is often caused by excess debris in the canal that needs to be removed by the doctor.


Waitzman, A. A., MD. "Otitis Externa." Medscape. Updated Aug 13, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/7/2015

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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 »

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