Ear - Swimmer's

Disponible En Espanol

Care at Home

  • WHITE VINEGAR RINSES: * Rinse the ear canals with half-strength white vinegar. Mix vinegar with equal parts warm water. (Exception: ear tubes or hole in eardrum.) * Start by having your child lie down with the painful ear upward. * Fill the ear canal. * Wait 5 minutes. Then, turn your child's head to the side and move the ear. This will remove the vinegar rinse. * Do the other side. * Continue twice a day until the ear canal returns to normal. * Reason: Restores the normal acid pH of the ear canal and lessens swelling.
  • PAIN MEDICINE: * To help with the pain, give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen. Use as needed. See Dose Table.
  • HEAT PACK: * If pain is moderate to severe, use a heating pad (set on low). You can also use a warm wet cloth to outer ear. Do this for 20 minutes. (Caution: Avoid burns). This will also increase drainage.
  • REDUCE SWIMMING TIMES: * Try not to swim until symptoms are gone. * If on a swim team, it's usually okay to continue. * Swimming may slow your child's recovery, but causes no serious harm.
  • RETURN TO SCHOOL: * Swimmer's ear cannot be spread to others.
  • WHAT TO EXPECT: * With treatment, symptoms should be better in 3 days. * They should be gone in 7 days.
  • PREVENTION OF SYMPTOMS: * Try to keep the ear canals dry. * After showers, hair washing, or swimming, help the water run out of ears. Do this by turning the head. * Do not use cotton swabs. Reason: Packs in the earwax. The wax buildup then traps water behind it. * If swimmer's ear is a frequent problem, rinse the ear canals after swimming. Use a few drops of a white vinegar-rubbing alcohol rinse. Use equal parts of each to make the rinse.
  • CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF: * Ear pain becomes severe * Ear symptoms last over 7 days on treatment * Your child becomes worse
  • WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: * Swimmer's ear is a mild infection of the ear canal. * It's caused by water getting trapped in the ear canal. Ear canals were meant to be dry. * Here is some care advice that should help.


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