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Ear Aches & Tea Tree Oil

author image Delialah Falcon
Delialah Falcon has been writing professionally for eight years. With extensive experience in all aspects of both technical and creative writing, Falcon specializes in content writing, research, proofreading/editing and health/medical journalism. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English from Dowling College and a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in holistic nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health.
Ear Aches & Tea Tree Oil
Female physician examines a patient's ear. Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Many people, children and adults alike, will suffer from an earache at some point in their lives. An earache can occur as a result of a bacterial infection in the outer or inner ear canal. It may develop after a cold, when nasal and sinus congestion causes mucous to leak into the ear canal and that mucous becomes infiltrated by bacteria. This is referred to as a secondary infection. Earaches can also occur after swimming, when water becomes trapped in the ear canal, creating a breeding ground for bacteria to thrive. This is known as Swimmer's Ear. Sometimes earaches occur on their own, with no prior incidence of the conditions mentioned. Tee tree oil is a popular alternative remedy for treating earaches. 

Tea Tree Oil

Despite its name, tea tree oil is neither a tea nor a plant that is related to a tea. Tea tree is derived from an Australian tree that is called Melaleuca Alterniflora. The mostly colorless, sometimes pale yellow oil is extracted from the leaves of the tree. Tea tree oil is available in a variety of preparations and comes in different concentrations. It is known for its anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic properties.

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Tea tree oil has long been used as an alternative treatment for ear infections. The U.S. National Library of Medicine refers to the rating scale used by The National Medicines Comprehensive Database to rank the effectiveness of tea tree oil when used to treat ear infections. According to this Database, there is insufficient data to rate the oil's effectiveness when used for earaches. The Library does however acknowledge that the properties in tea tree oil may very well be effective in killing bacteria and fungus.

Safety And Precautions

Certain people may be sensitive to tea tree oil. Although regarded as safe by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, tea tree oil can cause skin discomfort and swelling when applied undiluted to any large areas of skin or mucous membranes. A carrier oil, such as olive or almond oil, should be used by sensitive individuals to dilute tea tree oil before placing it in the ear canal. You should always practice caution when self treating ear infections at home. Any infection that lasts longer than 48 hours or that results in fever or severe pain, should consult their doctor straight away.

How to Apply

Instructions posted on the Tea Tree Oil Uses website state that a few drops of tea tree oil should be diluted with ¼ cup of warm olive oil prior to use. As concentrations of the oil will vary among manufacturers, always check the label and follow dosing instructions carefully. Tilt your head to one side and use a small syringe or dropper to add a few drops to the ear. Keep your head tilted for one minute, allowing the liquid to slide into the ear canal. To capture excess liquid that drips out of the ear when you return to an upright position, gently dab the ear with a clean cotton ball.

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