Earwax is normally thought of as a protective substance coating the eardrum to prevent damage, but for many people the wax builds up, causing pain and hearing loss. Over the counter remedies for wax build-up usually contain the harsh, abrasive hydrogen peroxide or a softening agent such as glycerin. However, these drugs can actually make the pain far worse and make it harder for the wax to be syringed with water. A much better treatment is olive or almond oil (or mullein oil) administered using a pipette.
Boils are infections that develop in hair follicles around the eardrum. Antibiotics can be applied to the boil, but if it is only small, hot compresses soft cloths soaked in hot saltwater usually relieve the pain.
Minor inflammation, or "swimmer's ear", can also be treated with over the counter drugs, but these are acidic and can be extremely painful. Why not try a drop or two of mullein oil into the ear, or a homemade solution using distilled household vinegar mixed with equal parts of water, glycerin, or rubbing alcohol?