Swimmer's Ear


Swimmer's ear is an inflammation of the external ear canal. The result may be itching, pain or temporary hearing loss. After swimming or showering you may notice your hearing is fuzzy, which indicates water in the ear. There may also be an infection in the outer ear, too, that appears later. Use this simple test to see if you have swimmer's ear: grab your ear and pull it forward gently, and wiggle it. If the pain increases you more than likely have an ear problem that can be helped with one of the following remedies. If the pain stays the same, you may have a middle ear problem which will need medical attention. Other symptoms of an inner ear infection are: hearing loss, a yellowish or milky discharge from the ear, or a sudden, sharp pain in the ear.


Keep your ear dry while it is healing. Use ear plugs or Vaseline-coated cotton balls when swimming or showering.

CAUTION: If you have an earache, fever, chills or discharge from your ear, see your doctor immediately.



Alcohol, rubbing Rubbing alcohol not only kills germs but causes water trapped in the ear to evaporate. See the remedies below under vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar If you notice water stopping up your ears, put three or four drops, diluted in equal parts with water or alcohol, in your ear after showering or swimming. This is a good preventive measure against future infection.

Hair dryer Use the warm (never hot!) setting of your hair dryer and place it about an arm's length from the ear and slowly move it back and forth. Test it on your wrist after it has been running a while before using it on the ear. The warm air will evaporate any trapped water.

Vinegar (distilled white) Put 2-3 drops of full strength white vinegar into the ear every two hours. This will be effective against any bacterial or fungal infection.

  • Another similar remedy is to make a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and warm water and apply four drops in the ear three times a day for three days. However, the water can harbor bacteria and fungus. One of the other two vinegar remedies is preferred. Pull on the earlobe to straighten out the ear canal. This will get the drops to their destination. The alcohol may sting, but this needs to be done.
  • A third vinegar remedy is to make a 50/50 mixture using equal parts of rubbing alcohol and distilled white vinegar. Put the mixture in a clean eyedropper bottle. The alcohol will kill germs and evaporate any water that's trapped in the ear. Use several drops after swimming. Tilt your head and pull your earlobe to get the mixture into the ear canal. This will help cure swimmer's ear or prevent it from happening in the first place. See the caution warning below.

These remedies can be mixed up in a clean eye dropper bottle.

CAUTION: Consult with your doctor before using these remedies if you have ever punctured your eardrum or had ear surgery (including having tubes inserted).


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