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Ear - Pulling At or Rubbing

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Care at Home

  • HABIT: * If touching the ear is a new habit, ignore it. This helps prevent your child from doing it for attention.
  • WHITE VINEGAR EARDROPS: * For an itchy ear canal, use half-strength white vinegar. Make this by mixing the vinegar with equal parts warm water. * Place 2 drops in each ear canal once daily. * Do this for three days. * Reason: Restores the normal acid pH. * CAUTION: Do not use eardrops if your child has ear drainage or ear tubes. Also, do not use if your child has a hole in eardrum.
  • KEEP SOAP OUT OF THE EARS: * Keep soap and shampoo out of the ear canal. * Reason: Makes the ears itchy.
  • DO NOT USE COTTON SWABS: * Cotton swabs can push earwax back and cause a plug. * In older children, cotton swabs may remove all the earwax. This leads to itching and irritation. * Earwax protects the lining of the ear canal.
  • WHAT TO EXPECT: * With this treatment, most itching is gone in 2 or 3 days.
  • CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF: * Rubbing the ear lasts more than 3 days * Itching of ear lasts more than 1 week * Your child becomes worse
  • WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: * Most of these children have discovered their ears and are playing with them. * Some have an itchy ear canal. * Ear pulling can start when your child has a cold. It can be caused by fluid in the middle ear. Less often, it's caused by an ear infection. If this is the case, your child will develop other symptoms. Look for fever or increased crying. * Ear pulling without other symptoms is not a sign of an ear infection. * Here is some care advice that should help.


The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.

  • Not a Substitute - The information and materials in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker should not be used as a substitute for the care and knowledge that your physician can provide to you.
  • Supplement - The information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker are meant to supplement the information that you obtain from your physician. If there is a disagreement between the information presented herein and what your physician has told you -- it is more likely that your physician is correct. He or she has the benefit of knowing your child's medical problems.
  • Limitations - You should recognize that the information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker have the following limitations, in comparison to being examined by your own physician:
    • You can have a conversation with your child's doctor.
    • Your child's doctor can perform a physical examination and any necessary tests.
    • Your child could have an underlying medical problem that requires a physician to detect.
    • If your child is taking medications, they could influence how he experiences various symptoms.

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