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How to Treat Fungal Ear Infections

Updated on February 21, 2018

What is a Fungal Ear Infection?

A fungal ear infection also known as otitis externa or "Swimmer's ear" is where the ear canal is infected by a fungus. Fungal ear infections can be incredibly painful, difficult to diagnose, and even more difficult to treat. They differ from the more common bacterial ear infections in that they cannot be treated with antibiotics and antibiotics can actually make fungal infections worse.

Fungus thrives in dark, damp places and often thrives in the ear canal due to the fact it is dark and difficult to dry. As a result, fungal ear infections are very common, especially in swimmers, hence the term "Swimmer's Ear." To prevent and fight fungal ear infections make sure that you keep your ear canal dry and don't use cotton swabs! Cotton swabs can remove the protective barrier of wax in you ear and therefore, make the ear canal a perfect breeding ground for fungus.

You can find a series of different treatments for fungal ear infections below.

Symptoms of a Fungal Ear Infection

  • Pain
  • Itching
  • Creamy discharge
  • Inflammation/Swelling
  • Redness

Gentian Violet

Gentian violet is a remedy for fungal infections that dates back to the 1930's. Gentian violet is actually a dye that is a rich, deep purple color, but gentian violet is also so much more. Gentian violet has antifungal and antibacterial properties. Therefore, it can be used to fight both fungal infections and bacterial infections. Gentian violet can also fight parasites. Gentian violet can fight fungal earn infections by being placed in the ear canal and applied directly to the infection.

Colloidal Silver

Colloidal silver is a colloidal containing silver particles suspended in liquid. Like gentian violet, colloidal silver has both anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. Colloidal silver is often used in dressings to treat wounds, burns, and ulcers. Colloidal silver can be used to treat fungal ear infections by either putting drops of colloidal silver in the ear canal or soaking a cotton ball in colloidal silver and placing it in the ear canal.

Oregano Oil

Oregano oil is a natural anti-fungal that also has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-parasitic properties. Oregano oil can be taken internally as a natural remedy for a variety of ailments, but in order to treat fungal ear infections it should be used externally. Simply drop a few droplets of oregano oil into your ear canal and let sit in order to treat the infection. You can place a cotton ball in your ear if you are concerned about the oil dripping out. Especially if you are planning to go to sleep and don't want the oil dripping onto (and ruining) your pillowcases.

Vinegar & Rubbing Alcohol

Mix a 50/50 combination of vinegar and rubbing alcohol and drop it into your ear. The vinegar will balance the pH of your ear canal and fight off the fungus while the rubbing alcohol will help to dry out the ear canal. Fungus thrives in moist environments so to fight off a fungal ear infection you want to make sure to keep your ear as dry as possible.

Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

Sometimes fungal infections are caused by dandruff and sometimes dandruff is caused by fungal infections. Either way, wash in and around your ear with an anti-dandruff shampoo to help fight a fungal ear infection. Just be sure to dry your ear thoroughly as fungus thrives in dark, moist environments.

Lotrimin Cream

Antifungal creams such as Lotrimin Cream can be placed in and around the ear to help fight fungal ear infections.


Fungus loves moist, dark places. In order to prevent more fungus from growing, you must keep your ear as dry as the Sahara! Place a hairdryer about 12 inches from your ear and turn it on low. Allow the hairdryer to dry out your ear canal to help fight the fungus. The heat from the hairdryer should also help to alleviate some of the pain caused by the infection.

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