Swimmer’s ear, medical name otitis externa, is an infection of the ears caused by either the bacteria or fungi present in water. The infection is a direct result of over-exposure to water and commonly occurs in professional swimmers hence, the name.
The infection generally starts in the external part of the ear and then spreads to the ear canal if it goes undetected and untreated. When the skin of the ears remains exposed to water for longer duration of time it becomes wrinkled due to the entry of water into the water-resistant layer of the skin. As a result, the bacteria and fungi present in the water find it easier to enter the skin thus leading to ear infection. The infection is not life threatening but should be treated at the earliest to arrest its spread and growth.
Like with most infections, swimmer’s ears too can be treated using antibiotics, however, there are many home remedies that one can try before calling in on the doctor. Most of the home remedies for swimmer’s ears are effective in eliminating the cause of infection and are without any side effects unlike the antibiotics.
Before treating swimmer’s ears with any of the below given home remedies it is important to first drain out the excessive water from the canals of the ears. This will lessen the pain and discomfort of the infection to a considerable extent. Simply tilt your head to one side and shake the ear vigorously with your index finger to drain water.
Remedies For Curing Swimmer’s Ears At Home
Warm Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a good remedy for fighting ear infections. The oil helps drain out the water from the ears thus reducing the pain. However, do not use coconut oil for treating swimmer’s ears if you live under cold climatic conditions. People who live in cold environs should use mustard oil in the same way as coconut oil is to be used for the treatment.
Warm 20ml of coconut oil and pour it drop by drop in your ear. Now tilt your head to the side of the ear being treated. In a few seconds you will feel the water seeping out of your ear along with coconut oil. If you perform the treatment using the same oil in winter then there are chances that the coconut oil may solidify in a matter of few seconds and in your ear. Hence, don’t take chance and use mustard oil instead.
Some people may be taken aback at this home remedy for swimmer’s ears but the truth is that alcohol is a potent treatment for getting rid of ear infections. While treating swimmer’s ears use rum, brandy or whisky. Take a clean cotton wool and dip it in neat alcohol.
You can use the treated cotton wool in two ways; either let the alcohol drip from the cotton into your infected ear or rub the alcohol into your ear. Either way you will benefit in two ways, the alcohol will help evaporate water from the ears and also kill the infection causing bacteria. There are some professional as well as regular swimmers who make use of alcohol every day to ward off ear infections.
Remember, do not use diluted or very cold alcohol for rubbing on your ears as it may not have the same effect as neat and warm alcohol.
This is perhaps the easiest of remedies for swimmer’s ear infection. Every household has a hair dryer these days and the heat generated from the dryer is enough to evaporate the water molecules from the ear and kill the bacteria causing the infection. However, do not let the hair dryer very near to your skin or you may burn or injure your skin.
To treat swimmer’s ears with hair dryer tilt the infected ear to one side and place a working hair dryer underneath your ear but at least 10-12 inches away from the skin. Reduce the temperature of the dryer if the ear begins to burn or turns red. The idea is to generate heat that is warm enough to dry your ears without burning them. If you are a regular swimmer then carry a hair dryer with you and dry your ears the first thing after coming out of the swimming pool. If suffering from swimmer’s ears then use the hair dryer treatment 3-4 times a day till the infection is eliminated completely.
White vinegar is a common cooking ingredient and is found in almost all kitchens and is therefore an easy home remedy for treating swimmer’s ears. The remedy is effective, simple and not very costly. Pour 3-4 drops of white vinegar (preferably organic) in the infected ear and stay in this position for five minutes. Now tilt the head in the other direction and in few seconds you will feel the water draining from the ear along with white vinegar. Perform the same treatment in your other ear if required.
People suffering from swimmer’s ears should follow the treatment 3-4 times during the day for a period of four days. White vinegar will not only help remove water from the ears but the chemicals present in vinegar will eliminate the infectious bacteria as well.
Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical that has been proven to be safe for human use and has also been found to have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effect. It is also used in many cosmetic products because of its bleaching effect. Hydrogen peroxide is popularly used in the treatment of swimmer’s ears because it removes the bacteria responsible for the infection and also restores the ph balance of the ear canal that had been disturbed by the presence of bacteria.
It should be noted however that one has to be very sure of the condition of the ears before using hydrogen peroxide. People with ruptured ear drums may lose their hearing ability if hydrogen peroxide is used. Therefore, be very sure of the medical health of your ear before using the product for treating any infection. To treat swimmer’s ears a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in the infected ear are enough; perform the treatment only twice a day for three days.