Salt in a Sock, Relief for Your Child's Earache

Try Home Remedy to Relieve Earache in ChildrenThere is no instant remedy to alleviate the pain of an earache or an easy way to give solace to a child in agony, and with todays super heightened awareness of over medicating a parent is constantly on the lookout for healing alternatives. One of the best is the folksy solution of salt in a sock. It sounds odd but this very simple home remedy can bring comfort and relief to a child suffering from an earache.Ear Problems in Children

Earaches are very common in children under the age of seven. Young children are very susceptible to earaches, which usually stem from an infection in the outer (otitis externa) or middle ear (otitis media) or because the tube connecting the ear to the throat becomes blocked from a cold. A childs eustachian tube is shorter than in adults and therefore infection can spread very quickly.

Other causes of earaches are foreign objects in the ear, wax buildup, teething, dental infections, abscesses in the ear canal, teeth grinding, jaw clenching, and temperoromandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.

Earaches should be taken seriously and a pediatrician should be consulted. This home remedy is intended to give comfort and relieve pain until medical advice can be obtained. It is important to have any suspected middle ear infection treated by the child's pediatrician as an untreated infection of the middle ear can cause hearing loss.

Salt in a Sock

To help relieve earache, parents can consider using the salt in a sock home remedy.

Heat a cup of salt in a frying pan.Pour the heated salt into a clean, thick old sock and knot at the end.Test the warmth on your inner wrist so as not to burn the skin.Place the warm salt-filled sock on the child's painful ear.There are a few reasons this very simple folk remedy may work. Dr. Lillian M. Beard, co-author of Salt in Your Sock and Other Tried-and-True Home Remedies (Three Rivers Press, 2003), believes that the warmth of the salt in the sock placed on the painful ear eases the discomfort. The salt, too, may draw away any fluid, and thus relieving the pressure that may have built up behind the eardrum.

It is interesting to note that this remedy may have been used by early pioneering Americans as the use of "a bag of salt" is used for an earache in a short story, Old Mrs. Harris, first published in 1932 by Willa Cather.


Beard, Lillian M., MD with Linda Lee Small. Salt in Your Sock and Other Tried-and-True Home Remedies. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.

The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Book of Pregnancy & Baby Care. New York: Hearst Books, 1999.