Home Care Advice for Mild Swimmer's Ear
- White Vinegar Rinses:
Pain Medicine: Give acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or ibuprofen for pain relief.
Local Heat: If pain is moderate to severe, apply a heating pad (set on low) or hot water bottle to outer ear for 20 minutes (caution: avoid burns). This will also increase drainage.
Reduce Swimming Times: Try to avoid swimming until symptoms are gone. If on a swim team, it's usually OK to continue. Swimming may slow recovery, but causes no serious harm.
Contagiousness: Swimmer's ear is not contagious.
Expected Course: With treatment, symptoms should be improved in 3 days and resolved in 7 days.
Prevention of Recurrences:
- Rinse the ear canals twice a day with ½ strength white vinegar (dilute it with equal parts warm water).
- Start by having your child lie down with the affected ear upward.
- Fill the ear canal.
- Wait 5 minutes, then remove the vinegar rinse by turning the head to the side and moving the ear. (Exception: ear tubes or hole in eardrum.)
- Reason: restores the normal acid pH of the ear canal and reduces swelling.
- Continue until the ear canal returns to normal.
Call Your Doctor If:
- Try to keep the ear canals dry.
- After showers, hair washing, and swimming, help the water run out by turning the head.
- Avoid cotton swabs. (Reason: Packs in the earwax. The wax buildup then traps water behind it).
- If swimmer's ear is a repeated problem, rinse the ear canals after swimming with a white vinegar-rubbing alcohol solution (equal parts of each).
- Ear symptoms last over 7 days on treatment
- Your child becomes worse
And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
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Disclaimer: This information is not intended 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. For more information, click here.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. Clinical content review provided by Senior Reviewer and Healthpoint Medical Network.
Last Review Date: 6/1/2011
Last Revised: 8/1/2011 2:59:08 PM
Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker
Version Year: 2012
Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.