Pediatric ear drops are used in two of the most common diseases in pediatrics, otitis media and otitis externa. Otitis media is inflammation and/or infection of the inner ear behind the eardrum. Otits externa is inflammation and/or infection of the ear canal in front of the eardrum. There are several types of drops used to treat specific symptoms or diseases.
Cerumenolytics are ear drops designed to soften or remove ear wax or cerumen. The two active ingredients in most of these preparations are carbamide peroxide (Brand names: Auraphene-B, Auro Ear Drops, Debrox, Mollifene and Murine Earwax Removal) and triethanolamine polypeptide oleate (Brand name: Cerumenex). These drops are generally available without a prescription.
Local Anesthetic Drops
Local anesthetic drops are designed to reduce pain of the ear due to otitis media or otitis externa. Anesthetic drops include Benzocaine (Brand name: Americaine Otic and Otocain) and Pramoxine. These drops are generally available by prescription only.
Steroid Ear Drops
Steroid ear drops are used to treat inflammation of the skin of the ear canal. The common active ingredients are hydrocortisone; dexamethasone (Brand name: Dexasol); and fluocinolone acetonide (Brand name: DermOtic Oil Ear Drops). These drops are available only by prescription.
Anti-infective Ear Drops
Anti-infective ear drops are designed to treat an infection of the ear canal due to otitis externa or otitis media in children that have functioning tubes in the eardrum. The antibiotic anti-infectives that are readily available are Neomycin and Polymyxin B; ciprofloxacin (Cetraxal); ofloxacin (Floxcin Otic); gentamycin; gramicidin; nystatin; and framycetin. The non-antibiotic anti-infectives are chloroxylenol; and acetic acid or vinegar (Brand Name: Acetasol). Ear drops that contain antibiotics usually require a prescription.
Otitis Externa – Swimmer’s Ear Drops
Ears drops used in the prevention of swimmer’s ear are generally designed to remove moisture in the ear and/or reduce the pH so that the common fungi and bacteria do not grow. These drops include acetic acid (Brand name: Acetasol, Vosol) or isopropyl alcohol (Brand Name: Swim Ear, Auro-Dri). All of the drops used for treatment are combination drops that treat both the inflammation and infection aspects of the disease. The prevention drops are available without a prescription.
Combination Ear Drops
Combination ear drops have more than one active ingredient and are generally designed to treat multiple aspects of otitis media or otitis externa. Analgesic ear drops are use to reduce or eliminate pain generally in association with otitis media. Only one preparation is normally used, a combination of Antipyrine and Benzocaine (Brand names: A/B Otic, Allergen, Analgesic Otic, Antiben, Auralgan, Aurodex, Auroto, Dolotic, Ear Drops, Earache Drops and Otocalm).
Another combination ear drop is an antibiotic and steroid together, which are used to treat primarily otitis externa. These include: chloroxylenol/hydrocortisone/pramoxine (Brand name: Aero Otic HC, Cortamox, Cortane-B, Cortic-ND, Cyotic, Exotic-HC, Hydro Ear, IvDerm, Otirx, Oto-End, Otomar HC, Otozone, Tri-Otic, Zolene HC, Zoto-HC Drops); chloroxylenol/pramoxine (Brand Name: Pramotic, Uni-Otic); hydrocortisone/neomycin/polymyxin B (Brand Names: Cort-Biotic, Cortatrigen, Cortisporin Otic, Cortomycin, Drotic, Masporin Otic, Oti-Sone, Otimar, Otocort, Pediotic, UAD Otic); and ciprofloxacin/dexamethosone (Brand Name: Ciprodex). These drops require a prescription.
Homemade Ear Drops
Homemade drops are made to mimic commercially available drops to prevent swimmer’s ear. Three of the most common preparations include equal parts white vinegar and isopropyl alcohol or ethanol (Vodka); straight white vinegar; and straight ethanol. These are designed to remove moisture from the ear canal and lower the pH to prevent bacterial or fungal growth.
- "Nelson's Textbook of Pediatrics"; Richard E. Behrman, M.D., et. al.; 1992.
- "Physicians' Desk Reference"; Kevin D. Sanborn; et. al.; 2007.
- "Physicians' Desk Reference for Nonprescription Drugs"; Marjorie A. Duffy, et. al.; 1992.