Do Swimmer’s Ear Drops Burn? Natural Alternatives Listed!

There’s a common malady that affects many people in the triathlon and swimming community known as swimmer’s ear. Also known as otitis externa, is a condition in which the outer ear and ear canal become inflamed or infected.

This typically happens as a result of water becoming trapped in the ear canal, which creates a moist environment that allows bacteria to grow.

That’s mainly why Olympic Swimmers Wear Nose Clips and Earplugs?

Swimmer’s ear can also be caused by irritation from objects like cotton swabs, hairpins, or hearing aids, as well as allergies, skin conditions, or a scratch or injury to the ear canal. The symptoms of swimmer’s ear include pain or discomfort in the ear, itching or redness in the ear canal, drainage or discharge from the ear, and decreased hearing.

Treatment typically involves cleaning the ear canal, applying ear drops, and taking pain relievers. In some cases, antibiotics may also be necessary to treat the infection.

So, do swimmer’s ear drops burn?

Swimmer’s ear drops can cause a burning or stinging sensation in the ear when they are first applied. This is a common side effect and is usually temporary. The burning or stinging sensation may occur because the ear drops contain acidic or alcohol-based ingredients that can irritate the sensitive skin inside the ear canal.

If the burning or stinging sensation persists or becomes severe, you should stop using the ear drops and contact your healthcare provider. They may recommend a different type of ear drop or prescribe an oral medication to help manage your symptoms.

I remember having to apply ear drops to an ear infection when I was small, and the resulting burning sensation was less than pleasant.

Ever since then, I have avoided ear drops if at all possible. My wife, who also happens to be a triathlete (and a much better swimmer than I) – finds ear drops to be pain-free and even soothing whenever she needs to use them.

Are You Supposed to Leave Swimmers Ear Drops In?

In general, most swimmer’s ear drops should be left in the ear canal for a few minutes to allow them to work effectively. After the recommended time has passed, you may be instructed to tilt your head to allow any excess fluid to drain out of the ear.

The instructions for using swimmer’s ear drops may vary depending on the specific product and the severity of the condition.

It is important to follow the instructions provided with the swimmer’s ear drops carefully and to use them for the recommended length of time, even if your symptoms improve before the treatment is complete. This will help ensure that the infection is fully treated and prevent it from recurring.

How Long Does It Take for Swimmer Ear Drops to Work?

Typically, treatment with ear drops for swimmer’s ear lasts for 7 to 10 days. The time it takes for swimmer’s ear drops to work can vary depending on the severity of the infection and the specific medication being used.

During this time, you should notice an improvement in your symptoms, such as a decrease in pain, swelling, and discharge.

It’s important to follow the instructions for using the ear drops carefully, including the frequency and duration of treatment. In some cases, your healthcare provider may also recommend additional treatments, such as oral antibiotics or pain medication.

If your symptoms do not improve within a few days of starting treatment or if they get worse, you should contact your healthcare provider for further evaluation and possible changes to your treatment plan.

Are There Natural Remedies to Cure Swimmer’s Ear?

There are several natural remedies that can help relieve the symptoms of swimmer’s ear, but it’s important to note that these remedies should not replace medical treatment if the infection is severe or if symptoms persist.

Here are some natural remedies that may help:

  • Dry the ear: After swimming or showering, use a towel or a hair dryer on a low setting to dry your ears thoroughly. Moisture in the ear canal can create a breeding ground for bacteria, so keeping the ear dry can help prevent swimmer’s ear.
  • Warm compresses: Applying a warm compress to the affected ear can help relieve pain and reduce swelling. To make a warm compress, soak a clean cloth in warm water and wring out the excess. Hold the compress against your ear for 10-15 minutes at a time.
  • Vinegar and alcohol solution: A mixture of equal parts white vinegar and rubbing alcohol can help restore the natural pH balance of the ear and create an environment that is less hospitable to bacteria. Use a dropper to apply a few drops of the solution to the affected ear, then tilt your head to let it drain out.
  • Garlic oil: Garlic has natural antibacterial properties that can help fight infections. Crush a garlic clove and mix it with a few drops of olive oil or coconut oil. Warm the mixture slightly, then strain out the solids. Use a dropper to apply a few drops of the garlic oil to the affected ear.
  • Tea tree oil: Tea tree oil has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve the symptoms of swimmer’s ear. Mix a few drops of tea tree oil with a carrier oil, such as olive oil or coconut oil, and apply a few drops to the affected ear.

It’s important to note that while natural remedies can be helpful, they should not replace medical treatment if the infection is severe or if symptoms persist.

How Can You Tell the Difference Between an Ear Infection and Swimmers Ear?

Both ear infections and swimmer’s ears can cause pain and discomfort in the ear, but they are caused by different factors and have different symptoms.

Ear infections typically occur in the middle ear, which is the space behind the eardrum, and are often caused by a bacterial or viral infection. Symptoms of an ear infection can include ear pain, fever, fluid or pus draining from the ear, and difficulty hearing.

Swimmer’s ear, on the other hand, is an infection of the outer ear canal, which runs from the eardrum to the outside of the ear. It is usually caused by bacteria that grow in moist environments, such as those found in swimming pools or hot tubs. Symptoms of swimmer’s ear can include ear pain, itching, redness and swelling of the ear canal, and discharge from the ear. For more on this, check out our post “How Do You Get Swimmer’s Ear? Treatments & Prevention Measures!

To tell the difference between an ear infection and swimmer’s ear, it’s important to see a healthcare provider, who can examine the ear and make a diagnosis.

They may use a device that allows them to see inside the ear to look for signs of infection and inflammation. They may also ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform tests to determine the cause of the infection.

So in a nutshell, ear drops can sometimes, but not always, burn when they are applied as a treatment for a swimmer’s ear. If you take the steps mentioned above to keep your ear canal clean and dry, you may never need to find out for yourself!

Brad Birky

Brad Birky is an endurance athlete and trained chef who has qualified for and completed the Boston Marathon as well as multiple Ironman distance triathlons

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