Remove excess water from your ears with methods like blow drying, using different types of ear drops, and even adding more water.
Although swimming is often the cause, you can get water trapped in your ear canal from any exposure to water. If this happens, you may feel a tickling sensation in your ear. This feeling may extend to your jawbone or throat. You may also not be able to hear as well or only hear muffled sounds.
Usually, the water drains out on its own. If it doesn’t, the trapped moisture may lead to an ear infection. This type of ear infection in the external auditory canal of your outer ear is called swimmer’s ear (otitis externa).
It’s not hard to get water out of your ear on your own. These 12 tips can help.
If water gets trapped in your ear, you can try several at-home remedies for relief:
1. Jiggle your earlobe
This first method may shake the water out of your ear right away.
Gently tug or jiggle your earlobe while tilting your head downward toward your shoulder.
You can also try shaking your head from side to side while in this position.
2. Make gravity do the work
Gravity can help the water drain from your ear.
Lie on your side for a few minutes, with your head on a towel, to absorb the water. The water may slowly drain out of your ear.
3. Create a vacuum
This method creates a vacuum that may draw the water out.
- Tilt your head sideways, and rest your ear onto your cupped palm, creating a tight seal.
- Gently push your hand back and forth toward your ear in a rapid motion, flattening it as you push and cupping it as you pull away.
- Tilt your head down to allow the water to drain.
4. Use a blow dryer
The heat from a blow dryer may help evaporate the water inside your ear canal.
- Turn on your blow dryer to its lowest setting.
- Hold the hair dryer about a foot away from your ear and move it in a back-and-forth motion.
- While tugging down on your earlobe, let the warm air blow into your ear.
5. Try eardrops or sprays
If a doctor recommends them, consider eardrops after swimming. Over-the-counter (OTC) eardrops may help soften impacted earwax that may prevent water from exiting the ear. Some formulations may also repel water and reduce the chance of infection.
Options may include:
- alcohol-based eardrops
- hydrogen-peroxide-based eardrops, including carbamide peroxide
- oil-based eardrops, including olive oil or almond oil
- glycerol-based eardrops
Do not use these methods if you have any of these conditions:
- a middle ear infection
- a perforated eardrum
- tympanostomy tubes (eardrum tubes)
- signs of injury or infection, such as pain, swelling, warmth, drainage, or bleeding from the ear
6. Try more water
This technique may sound illogical, but it can actually help draw water out of your ear.
- Lying on your side, fill the affected ear with water using a clean dropper.
- Wait 5 seconds and then turn over with the affected ear facing down. All of the water should drain out.
Warm steam may also help release water from your ear. Try taking a hot shower or giving yourself a mini sauna with a bowl of hot water.
- Fill a large bowl with steaming hot water.
- Cover your head with a towel to keep the steam in, and hold your face over the bowl.
- Inhale the steam for 5 or 10 minutes, and then tilt your head to the side to drain your ear.
If at-home remedies aren’t working, don’t resort to using ear swabs, your finger, or any other object to dig inside of your ear. Doing this may make matters worse by:
- adding bacteria to the area
- pushing the water deeper into your ear
- injuring your ear canal
- puncturing your eardrum
A doctor, such as a primary care physician or an otolaryngologist (ENT) may be able to safely remove water or wax from your ear.
These simple tips can help prevent water from getting stuck in your ear in the future.
- Use earplugs or a swim cap when you go swimming.
- After spending time immersed in water, thoroughly dry the outside of your ear with a towel.
The following includes frequently asked questions about getting water out of your ear.
Will water come out of my ear naturally?
Water typically leaves the ears naturally with the help of gravity. But it doesn’t feel like it’s working, some home remedies, including eardrops and jiggling your earlobe, may help the water work its way out.
Why can’t I get water out of my ear?
If you can’t get water out of your ear, earwax or other debris may be blocking the way. If this is the case, avoid sticking anything in your ear to clear it, as this can potentially cause an infection. Sterile eardrops may help soften earwax. You may also have an ear infection known as swimmer’s ear that may require treatment from a medical professional.
What happens if you have water in your ear for too long?
If water stays in your ear, you may develop an ear infection, especially if bacteria was present in the water. This infection is called swimmer’s ear and may require treatment from a healthcare professional.
How do you open a blocked ear?
If your ear feels blocked due to water or pressure, you may be able to safely open your eustachian tubes and equalize pressure by yawning, swallowing, or applying a warm compress. If this and other remedies do not work, a medical professional may be able to help.
Trapped water usually goes away without treatment. If it bothers you, consider trying one of these home treatments to help relieve your discomfort. But if the water is still trapped after 2 to 3 days or if you show signs of infection, you should call a doctor.
If your ear becomes inflamed or swollen, you may have developed an ear infection. An ear infection can become serious if you don’t get treatment for it. It may lead to hearing loss or other complications, such as cartilage and bone damage.
A doctor can prescribe medications to eliminate infection and relieve pain.
Trapped water in your ear may work its way out naturally. Some home remedies, such as jiggling your earlobe or laying on your side so the water drips out, may help it along.
In some cases, water in your ear may lead to an infection that needs medical attention.
Avoid sticking anything, including cotton swabs or your fingers, into your ear. This can introduce bacteria or injury and lead to infection.