Blog

How To Prevent & Treat Swimmer’s Ear

in Eyes, Ears, Nose, & Throat, Health, Home Treatments

Swimmer’s ear (aka otitis externa) is a common infection among kids, frequent swimmers, and those who damage their ears by overcleaning or cleaning with improper instruments. Read more about the symptoms of swimmer’s ear and how to treat it.

Symptoms Of Swimmer’s Ear

Swimmer’s ear starts off with mild discomfort and itching in the ear canal. You may see some slight redness inside the ear and drainage of clear, odorless fluid. Tugging on the ear or pushing the tragus (the little bump in front of the ear) makes it worse. 

As swimmer’s ear progresses, redness, itchiness, pain, and fluid discharge increase. It can cause blockage of the ear canal resulting in muffled hearing. When left untreated, it can eventually generate radiating pain that affects the face, neck, and side of the head, plus swollen lymph nodes and fever. 

What Is The Difference Between Swimmer’s Ear And An Ear Infection

Swimmer’s ear (aka otitis externa) is an infection of the outer ear canal while ear infections (aka otitis media) are infections of the inner ear. 

With swimmer’s ear, the ear looks red and is itchy. Clear discharge is often present. Pressing and pulling the ear makes the discomfort worse. In contrast, middle ear infections produce pain that feels deeper in the ear and often worsens while lying down, chewing, or sucking. 

Middle ear infections are most often associated with viral upper respiratory infections, so other signs of a cold are usually present. Middle ear infections can be caused by swimming in bacteria-infested water while swimmer’s ear can be caused by water left in the ear canal after swimming in clean water and/or by damage to the ear canal.   

Prevention Of Swimmer’s Ear

Swimmer’s ear is caused by a bacterial infection in the outer ear canal. It often occurs when water is allowed to stay in the outer ear canal for extended lengths of time, which provides the warm, moist conditions that bacteria thrive in. Keeping the ears dry can help prevent swimmer’s ear. 

Ways to keep the ears dry:

  1. Tip head to each side to drain water from the ears.
  2. Gently dry the outer ear with a soft towel. 
  3. Gently blow dry the ears if comfortable. Use the lowest setting and hold the blow dryer at least a foot away from the ears. 
  4. Use alcohol-based drying drops in the ears (if the eardrum is intact). Alcohol helps water evaporate more quickly. Over-the-counter ear drops work well, or you can make your own by combining 50% vinegar with 50% rubbing alcohol. 
  5. Wear earplugs or a swim cap while swimming to prevent water from entering the ears.

Excessive cleaning or scratching of the ear canal with cotton swabs, fingers, or other instruments can damage the skin of the ear canal and leave the ear more prone to infection. Avoid putting foreign objects into the ear. If there is an earwax build-up, check in with a doctor or nurse to help with removal. 

Natural Treatment Of Swimmer’s Ear

Prompt treatment of swimmer’s ear is important even in mild cases. Avoid swimming and getting ears wet until swimmer’s ear infection is resolved.  

For home treatment of mild swimmer’s ear, make sure that the ear is clean and dry. Apply infection fighting drops to the ear canal if the tympanic membrane is intact. 

I recommend using Ear Relief & Resolve, which contains herbs that fight viral, bacterial, and fungal infections while reducing inflammation, healing tissues, and relieving pain. 

Colloidal silver is an excellent second choice if you don’t have Ear Relief & Resolve. Colloidal silver will take care of the infection but doesn’t provide the inflammation fighting and tissue healing benefits of herbal treatment. 

Oral treatment can help to resolve infections more quickly. Nature’s Biotic is a natural antibiotic formulation for kids or adults. Vitamin C and zinc are beneficial supplements if the infection was caused by damage to the skin. They accelerate tissue healing and fight infection. 

See a doctor if mild symptoms of swimmer’s ear don’t start to resolve within 12 hours of starting treatment. Go to the emergency room if pain is severe, the ear canal appears blocked, and/or fever is present. Conventional treatment usually starts with a topical antibiotic and steroid, but more intensive treatment may be necessary. 

Summary

Swimmer’s ear, aka otitis externa, is a common childhood infection that also occurs in adults. This infection starts with mild itchiness and discomfort of the ear and responds quickly to natural treatment if caught early. As swimmer’s ear advances, the symptoms worsen, and the likelihood that conventional treatment will be necessary increases. 

References:

Uzun, L., Dal, T., Kalcıoğlu, M. T., Yürek, M., Açıkgöz, Z. C., & Durmaz, R. (2019). Antimicrobial Activity of Garlic Derivatives on Common Causative Microorganisms of the External Ear Canal and Chronic Middle Ear Infections. Turkish archives of otorhinolaryngology, 57(4), 161–165. https://doi.org/10.5152/tao.2019.4413 

Wipperman J. (2014). Otitis externa. Primary care, 41(1), 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pop.2013.10.001

McWilliams, C. J., Smith, C. H., & Goldman, R. D. (2012). Acute otitis externa in children. Canadian family physician Medecin de famille canadien, 58(11), 1222–1224. 

Carr, A. C., & Maggini, S. (2017). Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients, 9(11), 1211. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9111211

Pullar, J. M., Carr, A. C., & Vissers, M. (2017). The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. Nutrients, 9(8), 866. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9080866

Kogan, S., Sood, A., & Garnick, M. S. (2017). Zinc and Wound Healing: A Review of Zinc Physiology and Clinical Applications. Wounds : a compendium of clinical research and practice, 29(4), 102–106

Recommended Products

OUR PRODUCTS

Trusted by Moms Everywhere

From foundational guidance to vaccination support, our products are pharmaceutical grade, organic, and scientifically studied to enhance your child’s immune system and neurological system. 

GET FREE ACCESS!

Dr. Ashley Mayer, founder of Dr. Green Mom®, is on a mission to provide you and your family with the tools to live a healthy life TODAY. You deserve quality healthcare information that’s easy to understand and even easier to implement.

Sign up today to get VIP access to her eBooks, health tips, and
up-to-date vaccine information for FREE!

FREE Guide to
Prepare for Vaccines
7 Secrets to
Prevent Sick Kids
Premium
Newsletter

Yes, sign me up for marketing emails from Dr. Ashley. For more information on how we use your information, check out our Privacy Policy. You can change your mind anytime by unsubscribing.

ORDER YOUR VACCINE
STRATEGY GUIDE
TODAY!