Otitis Externa, also known as Swimmer’s Ear, is the inflammation or infection of the external ear canal. Repeated exposure to water can result in the removal of cerumen (earwax) and drying of the external auditory canal, which increases risk for infection. According to eMedicine, “Otitis externa is one of the most common medical conditions that affect aquatic athletes and pool going individuals. Individuals with allergic conditions, such as eczema, allergic rhinitis, or asthma, also have a significantly higher risk of developing this condition.”
Mild cases of otitis externa may respond well to acidifying the ear. Acidify ears with a 50% vinegar and 50% isopropyl alcohol mixture. To treat, add 5 drops, 3 times per day for 7 days into the ear canal. If you’re prone to otitis externa, 4-5 drops can be used as a preventative method post swimming and bathing.
Garlic mullein oil is a combination of herbal extractions from the plants Verbascum Thapsus (Mullein) and Allium Sativa (Garlic). Mullein flowers are sedating and reduce inflammation. Mullein oil is often used to treat earaches and is indicated for treatment of otitis externa, otitis media, and serous otitis media. Garlic is a known anti-microbial plant and is also anti-inflammatory. It is one the main antibiotic plants used by alternative doctors. Best benefits are obtained by gently heating the garlic mullein oil, or applying heat after the oil is applied inside the ear.
Allium Cepa, also known as onion, is also very anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial. A very gentle, easy and effective treatment involves boiling an onion until it is soft. Take the onion and squeeze out the juice. Allow the juice to cool until it is luke-warm and place 2 drops into the ear. You can also make your own onion poultice to the infected ear. A poultice is a soft moist mass, often heated and medicated, spread on cloth over the skin to treat an aching, inflamed or painful part of the body. To make an onion poultice, gently simmer 1/2 of a chopped onion in 1/4 cup of water for a few minutes, stirring so it won’t burn. Wrap the simmered onion in several layers of cheesecloth or a thin, soft cloth. Allow the mixture to cool just enough so it doesn’t burn the skin. Then, place over the ear for at least five minutes.
Other alternative means to treatment of otitis externa involve increasing overall immune system functions. This may include using products like Vitamin C, Zinc and Vitamin A. As always, please consult your doctor first regarding any dietary or herbal supplements or treatments you would like to try.