Water in the ear, also known as swimmer’s ear, occurs when water becomes trapped in the ear canal causing pain and a bacterial infection. Water usually becomes trapped in the ear after being submerged in water, hence the name. The ear will feel itchy at first and your hearing may have an echo or sound tinny. If left untreated, a severe ear infection can ensue, which is why it is important to get rid of any excess water in the ear after swimming.
First, use a hair dryer to gently blow warm air into the ear and evaporate any remaining water. Make sure the hair dryer is at least 18 to 20 inches away from the ear and is on a warm -- not hot -- setting. Let the air blow for at least 30 seconds.
There are many liquid solutions you could use to help remove excess water from the ear canal. Rubbing alcohol will kill any germs and bad bacteria and will help dry your ears out at the same time. Using a dropper, squirt three to four drops of rubbing alcohol into the affected ear. Your ear will need to be facing upwards with your healthy ear pointed to the ground. Wiggle your ear and give the alcohol time to make its way into the ear canal. 30 seconds is typically sufficient. Then, tilt the injured ear towards the ground, holding a towel over it to catch any draining fluid. You can substitute rubbing alcohol for white vinegar or apple cider vinegar diluted with equal parts of water and alcohol.
Keep the ear as dry as possible. Dabbing a cotton ball with petroleum jelly and wearing it in the ear will keep the area dry as well. Soothe any pain in your ear with warmth, such as wearing a warm towel or heating pad over the ear. Never try to remove water using a Q-tip. The cotton will only irritate the inflamed ear and remove protective bacteria from the area.
To prevent swimmer’s ear from occurring in the first place, always swim with earplugs or a bathing cap. Do not submerge your ears underwater unless you need to. Always swim in a clean area, such as a well-treated pool. Applying baby oil, mineral oil or lanolin to your ears before swimming can help keep excess water out.