6 Earache and Ear Infection Home Remedies Every Parent Should Know

Updated: Oct. 28, 2019

Earache relief for your kiddo, coming up fast.

girl with hand over ear

The importance of home remedies for earaches

When your little one is suffering from an ear infection, it’s understandable to want earache relief fast. However, with doctors less likely to prescribe antibiotics and many parents more mindful of how often they give these drugs, earache home remedies are sometimes a good option. These treatments can soothe an earache at home, but it’s best to check with your child’s doctor first to see when medical treatment or a checkup may be necessary. Read on for the best earache home remedies.

child sleeping with stuffed animal

Sleep with the sore ear up

This is one of the easiest earache home remedies. Ear pain is partly caused by fluid in the ear. “Lying on the painful ear allows gravity to increase fluid buildup, worsening pain,” cautions Tania Elliott, MD, a clinical instructor in medicine at NYU Langone. But lying on the good ear prevents this from happening, she adds. Since rest is also essential, let your little one spend some time relaxing on the couch to utilize this treatment during the day. And to keep that bug from going around your house, learn the easy ways to get rid of a cold fast.

girl with nasal suction device to nose

Drain the nose

Earaches often occur when the nose is blocked, preventing fluid from draining away from the ears. “Suctioning your child’s nose followed by a few nasal saline drops can help by loosening up mucous and enabling drainage,” explains Dr. Elliott. “The ears, nose, and throat are all connected so it can help relieve ear pressure.” This remedy isn’t a favorite for young kids, but it will allow you to soothe an earache without leaving home. And check out these home remedies for relieving a stuffy nose.

hands holding wet washcloth
iStock/Peter Hermus

Apply heat

Placing a warm compress over the ear is a tried-and-true natural earache remedy, according to the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Soak a washcloth in warm (not hot) water and place it over the affected ear, being careful to not burn the skin. Here are 7 ways to ease your kids’ ear pain on your next flight.

bunch of onions

Use an onion compress

While there is no proof that onions cure ear infections, they may have antibacterial power. In a 2018 study in Scientific Reports, researchers at the University of London found that compounds extracted from a type of shallot can inhibit the growth of resistant TB bacteria and other germs under laboratory conditions. Maybe that’s why a popular folk remedy is to use onion as a compress for an earache. Cut a fresh onion and cover it in a clean cloth, holding it over the ear for five to 10 minutes.

mom giving baby medicine
iStock/Bojan Kontrec

Give OTC pain medication

Although most ear infections will get better with time, they can be painful while they last. You can soothe an earache at home by giving your child a pain reliever like Tylenol or ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin) which are anti-inflammatory medicines, recommends Dr. Elliott. “Anti-inflammatory medication reduces swelling and inflammation which occurs during an infection.” However, never give your child aspirin because of the risk of a dangerous condition called Reye’s syndrome. (Here are other things that pediatricians wish you knew.)

oil pouring into dish with olives

Use oil drops

Putting a few drops of body-temperature oil into the ear is an old home remedy for ear infection. “Very small studies have looked at this and showed a slight improvement in ear pain,” says Dr. Elliott. “I wouldn’t recommend creating your own remedy due to risk of contamination and introduction of foreign particles, which can lead to infection, but if you want to go the holistic route, find a reputable manufacturer of ear oil.”  These are the 9 things your ringing ears are trying to tell you.