Ear canal inflammation: treatment and home remedies

Inflammation of the ear canal is a very unpleasant disease that restricts everyday activities and can last for a long time without proper therapy.


Diagnosis of inflammation
of the ear canal

Physical examination
The doctor examines the ear for infection of the ear canal.
He pays attention to:

  • appearance of the ear canal;
  • the skin around and behind the ear, it can hurt when touched.

Differential diagnosis
The doctor must rule out other conditions that cause the same symptoms, as these may require different treatment; These include:

Examinations for ear canal inflammation
If there is a secretion, the doctor can instruct the laboratory to start a culture. The aim of the culture is to search for bacteria or fungi, usually Pseudomonas are found.

In the case of otitis externa maligna, the doctor may order further examinations to see if the infection has spread diffusely. For example, in order to detect signs of bone infection near the ear canal, the following tests can be ordered:

  • CT of head/neck
  • Scintigraphy
  • Removal and examination of skin from the ear canal

Treatment of ear canal inflammation

The aim of the treatment is to stop the infection and thus enable the healing of the ear canal.

Cleaning of the outer ear to remove secretions and residues is required:

  • to assess the severity of infection; the tympanic membrane may also be affected;
  • so that the drugs can get into all infected areas.

The doctor uses an aspiration device to remove:

  • Secretions
  • Earwax
  • Skin flaking and other impurities.

Medications against the infection

Ear drops
In most cases of ear canal inflammation, the doctor prescribes ear drops.
Depending on the type and severity of infection, the drops have a different basis:

  • Acidic solution to create a normal antibacterial environment in the ear;
  • corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and swelling;
  • antibiotics to combat the bacteria;
  • Antifungal medications to fight infections caused by fungi.

Local therapy – how are ear drops applied?
You should ask the doctor how best to use the ear drops. Here are a few important tricks:

  • Reduce discomfort caused by drops that are too cold by holding the vial in your hand for a few minutes to heat up.
  • The patient lies on his side, with the infected ear facing up, so that the drops can enter the entire ear canal.
  • Put 3-4 drops in the sick ear, 4 times a day.
  • You can insert a cotton ball or a gauze moistened with drug into the ear to keep the ear drops in the ear and favor absorption.
  • The ear can be lightly massaged to favor the penetration of the fluid into the ear canal.

If the ear canal is completely closed by swelling, inflammation or secretion, the doctor may use a cotton ball or gauze to:

  • to favor an outflow,
  • to help the drug penetrate the ear canal.

Therapy with ear drops usually becomes effective from the 3rd day of treatment.
Treatment lasts about 5-7 days.

The doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics if:

  • the infected otitis is in an advanced phase,
  • a therapeutic success in treatment with ear drops is missing.

As a rule, in otitis, the doctor prescribes:

  • cephalosporins,
  • penicillinase-resistant penicillins,
  • Fluoroquinolones.

Even though fluoroquinolones are not indicated by the FDA (Food and Drugs Administration) for use in children, they still appear to be safe for childhood treatment.
Antibiotic therapy lasts 10 days and must be used completely to avoid the risk of relapse.

Medication for pain
The doctor may advise to relieve the discomfort and pain caused by ear canal inflammation with over-the-counter painkillers, such as:

  • Ibuprofen (Aktren, Dolormin),
  • Ketoprofen (Gabrilen),
  • Paracetamol (ben-u-ron).

Natural remedies for ear canal inflammation

Onion juice
According to the healing art of Ayurveda, onion juice can be an effective remedy for ear canal inflammation.
Onion juice is a natural disinfectant and painkiller.

  • Chop onion into fine pieces.
  • Put the crushed onion in a cloth and crush to obtain the juice.
  • Heat the juice a little.
  • Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  • To fight the infection, add a few drops of onion juice to the ear.
  • Repeat two to three times a day.

White wine vinegar
vinegar helps restore acidity in the ear canal. This creates a hostile environment for bacteria and fungi.

  • Mix water and vinegar in equal proportions (for example, 5 drops of vinegar and 5 drops of water).
  • Moisten a cotton ball with the mixture.
  • Carefully insert the cotton ball into the ear canal.

To clear the ear canal and respiratory tract, one should carry out an inhalation with a cup of hot water and a few drops of essential oils, such as eucalyptus and mint.
These treatments are safe even during pregnancy.

There are no contraindications to travel by plane, unless the patient also suffers from a middle ear infection.

Prevention of ear canal inflammation

  • Do not scratch or clean the inside of the ear with cotton swabs, hairpins, fingernails or other objects, which could cause injury. Cotton swabs can irritate or cause itching and can clog the ear with earwax.
  • Use floating earplugs to prevent water from entering the ear.
  • Avoid using earplugs or headphones for too long because they can irritate the ear canal.
  • Avoid irritants. Keep soap, bath foam and shampoo away from the external auditory canal. These products can cause itching and irritation.

ears dry 
After bathing in the sea or in the swimming pool and also after the shower:

  • put your head on its side to drain the water from the ear canal;
  • carefully dry the ears (only externally) with the corner of a cloth or towel;
  • you can use a hair dryer with low heating and keep it at least 20-30 centimeters away from the ear.

How long does ear canal inflammation last? Prognosis

Inflammation of the ear canal is a curable disease that heals quickly with appropriate therapy. As a rule, there are no serious or long-lasting complications.
Acute otitis lasts a few days, less than a week.
With chronic or recurrent otitis externa, recovery times are long.

Read more: