Monday, May 23, 2011

Swimmer's Ear- Home Remedy

Here in Texas we are nearly done with school, and thoughts are veering away from finals and towards days filled with swimming, boating and all kinds of water activities. Austin boasts terrific natural swimming spots, including our lakes and our famous spring-fed Barton Springs pool, where the refreshing water stays at a cool 65 degrees even when we are baking in 100-plus temperatures. Not surprisingly, we tend to see an increase in swimmer's ear infections (otitis externa), which can not only be painful, but can limit your water fun. The good news is that prevention works extremely well, and even when that fails, you may not need to head straight to the doctor. The solution is EAR DROPS.

What drops do we use? We make our own home brew of half and half, alcohol and vinegar. (Yes, rubbing alcohol and generic cooking white vinegar.) To be honest, I like the convenience of the over-the-counter little bottle, so I actually buy one and pour out the contents, replacing it with our home remedy. An extra tip is to set it outside (in the shade in Texas) where it will warm up a bit before you put drops in your ears, so it's not cold and irritating.

This mix will actually work both for prevention and for treatment, if you forgot to use it ahead of time. Nine times out of ten, this will be all you will need! The vinegar kills the fungus, and the alcohol dries up any moisture that remains.
If you are an ear-wax-builder-upper, you may need to flush your ears periodically (such as once per month) using an infant bulb syringe and luke warm tap water, to remove packed in ear wax prior to putting in the home brew drops.

BOTTOM LINE: As always, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but remember vinegar/alcohol ear drops for swimmer's ear and you'll be set!


Claire Calo said...

I have heard of the vinigar , alcohol rememdy before, personally I found this online and have used it, its protection stays for the whole day, unlike the vinigar that is washed out with the first swim take a look it s great

monkeygirls said...

Is this still effective if we catch it dsys later? My 7yo has pain in ear and has for a few days. I did alcohol not knowing about vinegar. Shes still in pain but no fever so i dont suspect bad infection. When i put qtip in it cones out dark green like lake water we swam in all week. Its sore on the front part of her ear by cheek. Im at a loss.

Dr. Jill Grimes said...

Readers- PLEASE avoid using q-tips in ears! They are great for putting on eye makeup, but we see more damage than help when they are used inside ears. In a situation like this mom noted- with ear pain persisting despite some treatment and several days- it's time to take her in and let a clinician take a look! Most outer ear infections do not cause a fever EVEN if they require antibiotics (usually only topical).

Darren Colons said...

Thanks Dr Jill for this home remedies. Lot of people suffering from swimmer's ear. Swimmer's ear is so painful so why can't we prevent it before it happens. We can use diving earplugs to water out.