The goal is to cure the infection, usually with ear drops containing antibiotics.
Other treatments include:
- Corticosteroids to reduce itching and inflammation
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) to help relieve pain
- Vinegar (acetic acid) drops
If the ear canal is very swollen, a wick may be placed in the ear to allow the drops to travel to the end of the canal.
In elderly people or those who have diabetes and persistent ear pain or drainage, malignant otitis externa is a possibility. Malignant otitis externa is treated with high-dose antibiotics given through a vein (intravenous).