The Best Fixes For Swimmer’s Ear

The Best Fixes For Swimmer’s Ear

Swimmer’s ear — that discomfort you get after swimming that includes echoing, itching or clogging — is a common problem in the summer months. Thankfully, according to the Wall Street Journal, it’s not hard to take care of.

Photo by Jim Bahn

Swimmer’s ear is an inflammation of the skin inside the ear canal that happens when water is trapped in there. The Wall Street Journal has a few quick fixes that should help most of us:

If there is no pain — just annoying water stuck in the inch-long ear canal — Dr. Rosenfeld recommends putting about five drops of rubbing alcohol in the ear canal, using an eye dropper. “The alcohol will allow the water to evaporate — but don’t attempt this if you have a hole in your ear drum or an ear tube.”

Other tricks: cupping your ear with the palm of your hand and pumping inward, jumping on one leg with the water-filled ear tilted to the ground or just chewing gum. “These actions may create a pressure change and draw the water out,” he says. A blow dryer on a low setting will also dry out the water.

If those quick fixes don’t work, you might need to visit a doctor to keep away an infection. If the symptoms don’t improve on their own, schedule a visit. Oh, and don’t try excavating any wax with a cotton bud since you’ll be pushing it deeper into your ear canal. That just makes it worse.

Best Swimmer’s Ear Fixes [The Wall Street Journal]


  • I would humbly suggest that cupping one’s palm to one’s ear and pumping inward could rupture one’s ear drum if you are stupid.

  • If you’ve had the problem before you should definitely just grab some over-the-counter alcohol for it – just ask in your chemist. Pick it up at the same time you get your sunscreen 😉

    And for what it’s worth: Remember to swim between the flags – especially if you’re not a good swimmer, you’re ill (or intoxicated) and especially if you’re out with the children.

  • To dislodge water from your ear canal, by far the easiest solution requires only a tea spoon worth of water.

    First you tilt your head, so the water logged ear canal is facing up. Now you simply pour the tea spoon worth of water into the ear canal. After several seconds (2-5) you tilt your head back to allow the ear canal to drain.

    Basically what happens is that you use the extra water that is added to the ear to drag out the water that is stuck in your ear. It might sound counter-intuitive initially, however it does actually work.

    Why is this not common knowledge?!

    • Adding extra water in the ear is not common knowledge because it does not work with lots of people including me.
      There are a few ways to get that water out as suggested in the article.
      Basically if the water doesn’t come out via gravity you need to change the viscosity of the water that is in your ear canal.
      A mixture of methylated spirits five parts, boiled water five parts and white vinegar 0.25 parts is a cheap way to do it and it will kill off all the bugs as well.
      Of course you can always use scotch, brandy, gin or vodka if you are desperate as I have been (not by mouth BTW).

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