How to Treat Swimmer’s Ear Naturally

Swimming can be a cool treat on a warm spring or summer day. But if you indulge often, you could find yourself fighting a gnarly ear infection, which could set you back from enjoying your sweet treat. If you find yourself in this uncomfortable situation, you’ll want to address that swimmer’s ear with every tool on your home remedy tool belt.

What is Swimmer’s Ear?

Swimmer’s ear isn’t the same as the ubiquitous childhood ear infection. What children experience is known as a middle ear infection, which can cause fever, vomiting, decreased appetite and pain. A swimmer’s ear infection affects the outer ear. It’s the canal from the external ear to the eardrum.

When you swim in any body of water, you’ll likely have water enter your outer ear canal. Trouble sparks when the water stays in the canal and the bacteria present in the water, from pools, lakes, and the ocean, breed in the bit of water that remains.

How to Prevent Swimmer’s Ear

The best way to treat swimmer’s ear is by preventing it in the first place. There are several ways you can do this.

1) Diet

Certain foods create the optimal environment within your body for infection. If you eat lots of packaged, processed, or high sugar foods, you’re creating the perfect storm for ill-health. But that’s not the only thing.

Foods like gluten, dairy, shrimp, and peanuts are known allergens which can increase inflammation in the body, even if you’re not acutely allergic. Conventional dairy specifically promotes the creation of mucus in the nasal passageways and throat. Excess mucus can cause a backup in the ear canal, which only creates problems for your vulnerable ear.

The solution is to eat real, whole foods like fruits and vegetables. These foods decrease inflammation in the body and provide the necessary nutrition to boost your immune system.

Some specific anti-inflammatory foods are ginger and turmeric, which can easily be added to stir-fries, smoothies, tofu scrambles, or other dishes. Garlic is another powerful food source, known for its antimicrobial properties.

Wash all your healthy food down with plenty of water. Staying hydrated keeps your mucus thin and prevents it from building up.

2) Supplements

Supplements are a great addition to any healthy diet and routine. But when you need that extra kick, top off with these eight vitamins and herbs.

  • Omega 3s
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin C
  • Echinacea (It specifically helps to increase lymphatic drainage which helps your immune system rid itself of impurities.)
  • Vitamin D3
  • Elderberry, calendula, and astragalus are herbs with antibacterial and antiviral herbs properties. No need to take these daily. Simply dose up when you’re most in need.

What do these all have in common? They help to decrease inflammation and boost the immune system while promoting healing.

3) Homemade Ear Drops

Don’t be afraid to bust out your own concoction. Simply purchase a small bottle with a dropper lid. You can use any or all of the following to dry out the ear canal as well as make your ear canal inhospitable to bacteria.

  • One part white vinegar to one part rubbing alcohol drops
  • Mineral oil
  • Hydrogen peroxide

Of course, you’ll want to talk to your doctor before using homemade ear drops, just to be on the safe side.

4) Dry Ears Thoroughly After Swims

The primary driver of swimmer’s ear is a wet ear. Homemade ear drops can help your ear canal dry out, but so can a good ol’ head shake. But if that’s not doing the trick, then whip out your hairdryer. Be sure it’s on a low setting.

5) Other Tips

If you have trouble getting water out of your ears, then you can try keeping water out in the first place with ear plugs. Aside from that, the next best thing to is watch out for how much bacteria is in the pool.

You can’t do this with natural bodies of water, but pools should be keeping track of how dirty or clean their water is. Check with the facility prior to jumping in, if you’re prone to swimmer’s ear. High bacterial counts in the pool puts you at increased risk of infection.

Swimmer's ear can be an unpleasant visitor during the summer months. Here's how to treat swimmer's ear naturally or - even better - prevent it altogether.

How to Treat Swimmer’s Ear

You tried preventing it, but now you have the infection. You can try these tips alone or consult your physician to get an antibiotic or steroid on board.

1) Olive Oil

Olive oil has antibacterial properties that can expedite healing. What’s more, if you add vitamin E drops to the olive oil, you can soothe the tissue and decrease inflammation.

2) Pure Garlic

Garlic can be great from the inside out, but it can also be used from the outside. Take one crushed clove of garlic wrapped securely in a small piece of sterile gauze. Gently nestle the gauze inside the outer portion of the canal, then tape it in place.

3) Essential Oils

Do not drop any essential oils directly into your ear canal. This is not recommended by anyone. Essential oils can help to relieve pain relief pain and lower your anxiety, but it’s not an ear canal ointment or treatment. You can mix the following oils and place the mixture around the ear.

  • 5 drops lavender
  • 2 drops basil
  • 1 drop peppermint
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

4) Hot Packs

Hot packs won’t heal your ear, but they will help you feel better. Use a heating pad or hot pack purchased at the drugstore or a homemade corn-based heating bag. The warmth will help stimulate circulation to the area, which promotes healing.

Image via Thinkstock


Tabot T
Tabot T1 months ago


hELEN h1 months ago


Shae Lee
Shae Lee1 months ago


Mike R
Mike R2 months ago


hELEN h2 months ago


Teresa W
Teresa W2 months ago


Teresa W
Teresa W2 months ago

Garlic rules! Even here.

Paula A
Paula A2 months ago

thank you for sharing

Greta L
Greta L2 months ago

thank you for sharing

Hannah K
Past Member 2 months ago

Thank you