A perforated or ruptured eardrum occurs when a hole or tear appears in the thin membrane that separates the ear canal and inner ear. This delicate membrane can be injured by an ear infection or trauma, such as over-insertion of a cotton swab, very loud noises, head injuries or changes in air pressure. The perforation should be examined and diagnosed by a doctor to determine the size of the hole and severity of the perforation. According to the Mayo Clinic, small tears usually heal on their own within two months if patients diligently follow care and treatment instructions.
Keep Ears Dry
Water or other liquids placed inside the ear can cause infection and delay healing. Only use medications prescribed by your doctor—avoid putting any other types of liquids into the ear. Use a shower cap or apply Vaseline to cotton balls and place them inside of your ears while showering or bathing to help ensure the area stays dry. Avoid swimming or submerging your head in water while the perforation heals.
Avoid using cotton swabs or other items to clean the ear while it heals. While it might itch or feel dirty during the healing process, it is important to allow it to heal completely before trying to clean it. Inserting any type of ear wax removal objects inside of the ear can make the rupture worse.
Ease the pain of a ruptured ear drum by applying a heating pad or hot compress onto the area. The heat can help soothe any swelling, as well as offer you some relief for this often painful condition.
Ask your doctor to recommend over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief medications that you can safely use while waiting for the perforation to heal. Call your healthcare provider if you experience any signs of infection, such as fever or pus-like discharge.
Protect Your Ears
Avoid blowing your nose while waiting for the perforation to heal since the pressure created during the process can worsen the rupture. You should also protect your ears from cold air by wearing a hat or ear muffs. After your rupture heals, the Mayo Clinic recommends you avoid flying with a cold or congestion and use earplugs during airplane flights to keep from suffering a recurrence of this condition. Always treat any type of ear infections promptly to avoid eardrum perforations and other damage to the ears.