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Hot compress for ear: Best ways to treat an ear infection at home


Best ways to treat an ear infection at home

Ear infections are no fun for anyone. If you or your child gets one, you just want the symptoms to be gone as soon as possible.

The best treatments vary depending on your type of ear infection – it can be in the inner, middle or outer ear. Ear infections can have different causes, too, and can be brought about by bacteria or by viruses.

So, what’s the best way to quickly clear up an ear infection? Do you need to see the doctor, or can you treat an ear infection at home? Read on for the answers.

What are home remedies for ear infections?

Most ear infections clear up without medical care or special medicines. So if you or your child gets an ear infection, the first step is usually to treat ear infection symptoms at home. Here are options to try:

Over-the-counter (OTC) pain and fever reliever

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) is often enough to reduce the pain and fever that can come with ear infections. Of course, all medicines aren’t safe for all ages, so make sure you give your child the correct amount for their age. Learn more about ear infection symptoms in babies.

Kids over 3 months old can take acetaminophen – but if your baby has a fever, it’s a good idea to call the nurseline (612-339-3663 or 800-551-0859) for guidance on the right dose. Contact your doctor right away or go to urgent care if your little one is less than 3 months old and has a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

Warm compress for an ear infection

A warm compress can help reduce ear pain. Just a soak a washcloth in warm water, wring out the excess water and then hold it against the infected ear for up to 20 minutes. If the compress seems to help with the pain, reapply the compress throughout the day.


Sleeping and resting strengthens the immune system and helps your body fight off infections and other sickness. But it’s best not to sleep on your infected ear – and not just because it’s uncomfortable.

If you’re an adult with a middle ear infection, elevating the affected ear makes it easier for the infection to drain out. So, sleep on your other side or tuck a few extra pillows under your head if sleeping on your back.

If you have an outer ear infection, keep blankets and hair away from your ear. The airflow on your ear can help it stay dry, allowing it to heal faster.

Saltwater gargle

Saltwater is known as an effective way to reduce inflammation. And saltwater could help an ear infection as well – just don’t put the salt water directly in your ear. Instead, add one teaspoon salt to one cup of warm water and gargle it for a couple minutes. If your ear infection is related to a swollen throat, this can help reduce your symptoms.

Drying eardrops for an ear infection

If you or your child has an outer ear infection, commonly known as swimmer’s ear, using fluid-drying eardrops might help. You can buy OTC eardrops for swimmer’s ear at retail stores and online.

Using fluid-drying eardrops is not appropriate for people who have ear tubes. They also shouldn’t be used if there’s discharge coming from your ear or if your eardrum is ruptured. So before using eardrops for you or your child’s ear infection, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor to make sure they’re safe to use.

Hydrogen peroxide

There’s a chance that putting hydrogen peroxide in your ears could help with an ear infection. To try it, place a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in your affected ear, let it sit for a few minutes, then tilt your head over a sink to let the fluid drain out before rinsing off your ear.

Is it safe to put hydrogen peroxide in your ear?

Yes, but it’s important not to use too much hydrogen peroxide or repeat the procedure too frequently, as it can cause irritation, pain and inflammation.

Home remedies used to treat related illnesses

Decongestants, antihistamines and cold medicines won’t cure an ear infection, but it’s possible that they could help with your symptoms. For example, if you treat allergy symptoms and get rid of the sniffles from a cold or flu, you may be able to reduce the swelling that’s blocking things up.

Avoid using Q-tips for ear infection cleaning

If your ears are feeling plugged up, you may think about using a Q-tip to clean them out. Is this a good idea? In most cases, no.

You should never put a Q-tip in your ear canal – and this is especially true if there’s an infection inside the ear. While it seems like it might be good way to clean things out, using a Q-tip in your ear can actually push infected fluid farther into your ear, making your infection worse.

It’s okay to use a Q-tip to carefully clean the outer ear, the part that you can see. But chances are it won’t help much with your ear infection symptoms.

When should I talk to a doctor about an ear infection?

If the ear infection symptoms don’t improve within a few days, make a primary care appointment. Other signs that it’s time to see a doctor include:

  • Ear pain that lasts more than two days
  • Fluid draining from the ear
  • Changes or loss of hearing
  • Fever over 102 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Frequent or recurrent ear infections

Should I use antibiotics for an ear infection?

Antibiotics are a medicine prescribed by your doctor. If you’re dealing with an ear infection caused by bacteria, you’ll likely need antibiotics. They are the best way of quickly getting rid of a bacterial infection and preventing it from spreading to other parts of the body.

The catch is that antibiotics don’t work against viruses – if you use antibiotics on a viral ear infection, it can actually make the infection worse. Overuse of antibiotics can lead to a condition called antibiotic resistance, which means that the medicine becomes less effective at fighting off bacteria.

That’s why doctors are careful about using antibiotics wisely and may not immediately prescribe them for ear infections.

When your doctor may prescribe antibiotics

While every situation is unique, there are several factors that doctors consider when recommending antibiotics:

  • What they see– If the infection is in the outer ear, it may be clear it’s caused by bacteria. In this case your doctor may recommend antibiotic eardrops to help clean out the ear infection. If your doctor can’t see the ear infection because it’s on the inside of the ear, they may not prescribe antibiotics right away.
  • How long it’s been– Viral infections typically go away on their own in 1-2 weeks. If the ear infection has been around for less than a week, your doctor may recommend waiting to see if the ear infection goes away on its own, a sign that it’s viral. If it’s been more than a week, your doctor may recommend starting antibiotics.
  • Your child’s age– The doctor may be more likely to prescribe antibiotics for children under 2 years old, especially if they have infections in both ears, have pain that’s moderate to severe, or have a fever.
  • Symptoms– If you or your child have certain symptoms, such as an extremely high fever or severe dehydration, your doctor may recommend starting antibiotics sooner.
  • Medical conditions– Your doctor may recommend starting antibiotics right away if there are certain medical conditions, such as cleft palate or repeat infections, that could lead to problems with an ear infection. In most cases, antibiotics will also be recommended when someone with a cochlear implant gets an ear infection.

What if my ear infection doesn’t go away after antibiotics?

If you or your child finish your course of antibiotics, but it seems like the ear infection hasn’t gone away, make an appointment with your doctor. They’ll help figure out what’s going on and what to do next. There’s a chance that your doctor may prescribe a different type of antibiotic to see if it works better.

It’s also possible that the infection is gone but the symptoms aren’t. This can happen if there’s still fluid trapped in the ear, causing a plugged-up feeling, pain or hearing loss. Most of the time the fluid in ears drains within a couple of weeks, but sometimes it sticks around longer.

What happens if an ear infection is left untreated?

Fluid buildup in the ear can be damaging – even if there’s no infection – and may lead to a ruptured eardrum and hearing loss. So, it’s important to see the doctor if symptoms remain after finishing the antibiotics. They’ll likely want to take a look in your ear and learn more about your symptoms.

Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may recommend you see an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor. The ENT doctor may recommend surgery to place small metal or plastic tubes in the ear canal to make it easier for the fluid to drain out. Your doctor may also recommend ear tube surgery for your child if they have recurrent ear infections.

How to prevent ear infections

Ear infections generally come after another illness caused by viruses or bacteria. Anything you can do to keep from getting sick or boost your immune system, should also help reduce your chance of ear infections. Here are ways to keep yourself and your family healthy:

  • Wash hands frequently. This helps to stop the spread of germs that make you sick.
  • Get vaccinated. Make sure both you and your child get a flu shot and other recommended vaccinations by age. Vaccinations are one of the most effective ways of preventing viral and bacterial infections, which can turn into ear infections.
  • Stay away from cigarette smoke. Secondhand smoke makes it more likely that you, or your child, will get an ear infection. So, don’t smoke around your child. Better yet, talk to your doctor about quitting – giving up smoking is one of the best things you can do for your own health and the health of your family.
  • When possible, limit the number of kids your child is around. If your child is around fewer kids, they’ll be around less germs that can get them sick.
  • Breastfeed your baby. Breast milk contains antibodies that boost baby’s immune system, reducing the risk of ear infections. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding for at least 12 months and that, for the first six months, baby eats nothing else.
  • Hold your baby when they’re eating. If baby is bottle feeding, hold them in one arm and the bottle in the other hand. If baby eats lying down or falls asleep sucking on a bottle, fluids can collect in their ear, increasing the chance of ear infections.
  • Limit pacifier use. Pacifiers are recommended to help your baby sleep safely and can reduce the chance of sudden infant death syndrome. However, the AAP recommends stopping use of the pacifier at around 6 months – babies who continue using pacifiers after 12 months are more likely to have ear infections.
  • Talk to your doctor. If you or your child have frequent ear infections – three in 6 months or four within a year – ask your doctor if ear tubes might be a good option.

5 Tips to Heal Faster –

By Thibodaux Regional Urgent Care – Thibodaux

You’ve got an ear infection? Start here first.

In the United States, more than 8.8 million people report having ear infections every single year. With such a high number of cases, it’s important to be prepared for one at all times.  

But the real question is, how can I treat an ear infection at home? For those looking for the best, check out these top five tips for how to treat an ear infection at home.

Read on to learn more.

1. Try Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers

If you’re dealing with an ear infection, try over-the-counter pain relievers to combat discomfort. Try pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen to keep your ear pain in check.

You can use over-the-counter pain relievers with or without antibiotics. If you have a fever, this can be a great way to keep it in check. Be sure to consult your medical healthcare professional if you have questions about the appropriate dose. 

2. Give Warm, or Cold Compresses a Go

One of the best ways of treating an ear infection at home is to give a warm or cold compress a go. Try a warm, damp washcloth or a heating pad to relieve your ear pain.

You can use both a warm and a cold compress and for best results, be sure to alternate between both. Keep the compress on for approximately ten minutes. It is an excellent pain relief method for individuals of all ages.   

3. Consider Olive Oil

If you want to treat an ear infection at home, consider using olive oil. The olive oil should be no warmer than body temperature. Simply extract a few drops into your ear canal to soothe the ear pain.

It’s important to check in with your doctor to make sure this is an option right for you. Be careful to not overuse the olive oil, especially with young children.

4. Look into Naturopathic Drops

One of the best things to do on the path to healing an ear infection is to use naturopathic drops. Naturopathic drops are natural, herbal extracts that are found in most drug stores. This natural remedy is an excellent choice in place of OTC ear drops. 

5. Be Sure to Sleep Without Pressure on Your Ear

A great way to treat an ear infection at home is to be sure to sleep without pressure on your ear. Try to sleep with your head elevated on an extra pillow. That can help aid ear drainage and get you on the path to recovery.

How Can I Treat an Ear Infection at Home?

If you’re wondering how can I treat an ear infection at home, then be sure to check out this list of tips and tricks on how to heal your ear infection faster. Remember to consult a medical healthcare professional if your symptoms persist.

What are you waiting for? The path to healing awaits!

Want to see more posts like this one? Check out the rest of our blog to learn more!

Types of compresses on the ear of an adult or a child – instructions on how to put an ear compress correctly

Olga Gostyukhina

Author of Сolady magazine, journalist


Verified by experts

All medical content of Colady.ru magazine is written and verified by a team of experts with medical education to ensure the accuracy of the information provided in the articles.

We refer only to academic research institutions, WHO, authoritative sources and public domain research.

The information in our articles is NOT medical advice and is NOT a substitute for seeking medical advice.


Reading time: 7 minutes

Anyone who has experienced such a disease as otitis media knows how excruciating the pain is and how difficult the treatment is. The first thing that comes to mind when your ear hurts is to take “some” pill and make a warm compress. And not everyone thinks how Self-treatment can be dangerous .

The appearance of pain in the ear is, first of all, a reason to see a doctor !

And only then – medicines and compresses.

Contents of the article:

  1. Types of ear compresses, indications
  2. Contraindications for ear compresses
  3. Ear compress for child – instructions
  4. How to put a compress on an adult’s ear?

Types of ear compresses for adults and children – indications for them

Hot compress today is one of the most effective (additional!) methods of therapy in case of otitis media or inflammation of the middle / outer ear, but (important!) – only in the absence of purulent processes and taking into account contraindications, as well as the rules for installing a compress .

The benefits of the compress are expressed in…

  • Rapid relief of pain.
  • Anti-inflammatory effect.
  • Acceleration of blood microcirculation.
  • Ear canal disinfection.
  • Improving the absorption of the drug into the blood.
  • Decreased edema.

The indication for dressing is…

  1. Otitis externa.
  2. Hypothermia, drafty ear.
  3. Acute otitis media.
  4. Otitis media (note – only dry heat is used for the compress).
  5. Chronic otitis media / ear (note – not in the acute stage).

It is strongly not recommended to self-prescribe a warming compress for suspected otitis media or just incomprehensible pain in the ear. Remember that heating during a purulent process is extremely dangerous and can lead to unpredictable consequences.

Otitis media is not a mild runny nose or headache, it is a serious condition that must be diagnosed by a specialist . He will prescribe the treatment necessary in each specific case, and also tell you whether a compress is needed as an additional remedy in the treatment of antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drops.

What are compresses?

Not so many species.

First of all, compresses can be dry or wet.

They are further classified according to the warming agent used:

  • Vodka. The most popular variant. About 50 ml of heated vodka, which is diluted with water 1 to 1, goes to “one adult ear”. This bandage provides a good warming effect and relieves pain. A decoction of plants or essential oil is sometimes added to vodka. The time of wearing such a bandage is a maximum of 4 hours.
  • Alcohol . Less common option with the same treatment regimen as in the case above. Instead of vodka, 50 ml of diluted medical alcohol is used (usually diluted 1 to 1, or the alcohol content in the solution is completely reduced to 20%), the bandage is also worn for no more than 4 hours. Alcohol does not need to be heated.
  • With camphor oil. This option is no less effective than vodka, but not as popular because of its shortcomings: the oil should be heated in a water bath, not everyone has it at hand, the oil forms stains on clothes. Bandage wearing time – no more than 6 hours.
  • With camphor alcohol . This tool has a very powerful warming, as well as resolving effect. The downside is that it irritates the skin, so before installing the compress, it is lubricated with a greasy baby cream. Alcohol is necessarily diluted, and then heated. The time of wearing the bandage is no more than 2 hours.
  • With boric alcohol. Despite the fact that boric acid is known as an excellent antiseptic, the method is considered obsolete. The scheme is simple: boric alcohol + ordinary vodka + water (approx. – 20 ml of each component). The time of wearing the bandage is no more than 4 hours.

Before applying a compress (after a doctor’s prescription!), it is imperative to test your skin to determine its sensitivity:

A compress solution is applied to the inside of the elbow (or wrist). We check the reaction directly after half an hour: if there are no troubles, we put a compress on the ear.

Usually they are done twice a day until recovery.

Contraindications for ear compresses – when should they not be done?

Contraindications to otitis media include the following:

  • Purulent otitis media (this is the very first and most important contraindication).
  • Mastoiditis and labyrinthitis (note – complications of otitis media).
  • Increased body temperature.
  • Violation of the integrity of the skin at the site of the compress (abrasions, sores, wounds, boils or dermatitis).
  • Presence of moles in the same area.

Why is it important to see a doctor and avoid self-medication?

Otitis is treated fairly quickly and usually successfully. If it is not started.

A person who diagnoses himself “on the Internet” is not able to see the purulent process inside the ear. It would seem that the ear blew out on a walk, warmed up with a compress, and everything went away. But warming the ear during a purulent process is a serious risk of development (rapid development!) of such complications as the spread of infection, meningitis, or even a brain abscess.

Algorithm for placing an ear compress for a child – instruction

You can warm up a child’s ear with a compress only after a visit to an otolaryngologist and his recommendations!

How to do it?

  1. Carefully and carefully clean the outer part of the ear from dirt (note – it is forbidden to climb inside the ear!) with a cotton swab.
  2. Lubricate the compress area with fat baby cream to prevent skin burns or irritation.
  3. Fold sterile gauze in several layers and make a cutout in the shape of a square according to the size of the child’s ear.
  4. Wet the future dressing with vodka warmed up to 37 degrees, wring it out and put it on the ear. The eye should seem to be peeking out of the gauze “scarf”.
  5. Next, cut out a protective square from polyethylene according to the same principle and put it on top of the gauze.
  6. Close the applied compress tightly with sterile cotton complete with lug.
  7. We bandage the resulting structure with a bandage – fix it tightly so that the compress does not fall off.
  8. We warm the compress with a cap , a woolen scarf or a scarf, tying it around the head.

  • Compress wearing time – no more than 2 hours.
  • It is recommended that be applied between 2 and 4 pm when the ears are most receptive to treatment.
  • Important after the procedure, treat the skin around the ear with a damp cloth and lubricate with cream again to avoid irritation.

What to do with a temperature in a newborn – first aid and care rules

How to put a compress on an adult’s ear correctly – an algorithm of actions and rules

Neither vodka nor alcohol is required for a dry compress. Sterile cotton is packed in sterile gauze, after which a V-shaped cut is made in the dressing and apply a compress to the ear in the same way as in children (see above). From above, the compress is fixed with a bandage tied around the head.

The warming effect is obtained from the body’s natural heat transfer. The bandage can be left overnight.

If desired, can be heated in a frying pan with sea or ordinary salt , poured into a canvas bag and wrapped in a cloth, applied to the ear until the salt cools completely.

How to make a wet compress?

The installation scheme is the same as in the case of a baby compress.

The difference is only in the duration of the procedure: for an adult, the compress is set for 4 hours , and the notch in the gauze is made not in a square shape, but in the shape of the letter V .

Instead of alcohol and vodka, a 20% solution of the antimicrobial drug dimexide is often used (sometimes 3-4 drops of novocaine are added to the solution).

Remember that self-treatment is reckless and dangerous! At the first suspicion of otitis or other ear disease, it is recommended to consult a doctor . Do not look for answers on the Internet and do not torture the pharmacy staff – go to the doctor right away.

Be healthy and take care of yourself!

First aid for scratches and abrasions in children – instructions

Site Colady.ru warns: the information is provided for informational purposes only, and is not a medical recommendation. In no case do not self-medicate! If you have health problems, consult your doctor!

Ear warming compress

Purpose: to obtain a therapeutic effect


Required condition: no
skin lesions, body temperature
no higher than 38 o C

Preparation for the procedure:

  • Explain to mom the purpose and course of the procedure

  • Prepare the necessary equipment

  • Wash and dry hands

  • Examine the place where the compress is applied

  • Prepare three layers of compress:

A) wet layer – 6-8 layers of gauze

B) insulating – compress paper or

C) insulating – cotton wool 2-3 cm thick


Note: uses camphor
or vegetable oil, solution of ethyl
alcohol (in children under 3 years old – 20-25% solution, older –
45%), oil-alcohol solution 1:1

Procedure execution:

  • Lay the child on its side so that the patient
    ear was on top

  • Moisten a gauze napkin with lek.r-rum
    , squeeze, apply to the skin around the ear

  • Then put compress paper

  • Bring the auricle through the wet
    and insulating layers

  • Put cotton wool on top

  • Fix all layers with bandage

  • Fix time

Note: oil compress
impose for 6-8 hours, more often at night, and
alcohol – up to 4 hours

Completion of the procedure:

Processing rules
mouth for stomatitis

Urgent Care
with fainting




Put the baby to bed
on a flat surface with a raised foot
end (or seat and sharply tilt
head down)

Ensure inflow
blood to the brain

Unfasten tight clothing

Relief of lung excursion

Provides fresh air

With fainting, brain hypoxia is possible

Sprinkle the child’s face and body with cold
water or give a sniff of ammonia
alcohol (acetic acid)

Irritation of a large number
nerve receptors, excites
respiratory and vasomotor
CNS centers

Subcutaneously inject cordiamine

Excitatory d-e on the central nervous system

0. 1 ml/year




Sit the child down with the head down

Prevention of aspiration, ingestion

Unfasten tight clothes

Improving lung excursion

Provide fresh air supply

Breathing relief

Create a calm environment

The child is excited, worried

Press the wing of the nose against the nasal septum
relevant party

Mechanical control of bleeding

Apply cold to the bridge of the nose, heating pad
at the feet

Decreased blood flow to the nasal

tampon the appropriate
nasal passage with a cotton swab (you can
moisten it with 3% hydrogen peroxide solution,
solution of adrenaline, vikasol, chest

1) local stop provision

hydrogen peroxide is cauterizing

adrenaline – vasoconstrictor

4) vikasol
has a hemostatic drug

5) breast milk
contains hemostatic.

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