Anyone who has had an ear infection, know how painful these infections can get. Ear infections can be a huge concern for adults and children, and when a child is affected, their parent is in even greater agony 1.
Ear infections can be a huge concern, and very hard to treat. Luckily, there are always options, and one of those options is using essential oils for earache 2.
While we have nothing against over the counter medication and antibiotics, natural remedies are always a preferred choice.
Essential oils can help you clear up the infection naturally. How do they work? Are they dangerous? Well, stay with us and read on how can essential oils help, and which one to use for your earache.
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How essential oils help with an ear infection?
Essential oils are derived from plants. You can easily say they are a super concentrated form of the plant. Part of the process of making essential oils is steaming parts of the plant, which allows the oil to be separated from the water present in the plant.
Because most of the plants essential oils are derived from have potent antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, essential oils inherit those properties 3. And being that they are a more concentrated form of the plant, these properties are even richer.
Ear infection is often caused by a virus or bacteria. These germs take over the cells in your body, and then use your own cells to make more virus cells. Essential oils help by stopping that process, or even preventing the virus from replacing.
Other essential oils have antibiotic properties, and act like the most powerful antibiotic on the market. This helps kill off harmful strands of bacteria. Some essential oils help by causing the bacteria to starve to death and leave your system.
How to use essential oils for earache
First off, we need to understand that essential oils are very powerful and potent mixtures. After all, we mentioned that they are a super concentrated version of the plant they are derived from.
That means when you want to use essential oils, you must dilute them before use.
Diluting lessens the potent nature of essential oils, and prevents complications and side effects like irritation and burning on the skin.
The best way to dilute essential oils is to use carrier oils like jojoba, extra virgin olive oil, and coconut oil. The ratio is 1 teaspoon of carrier oil for every drop of essential oil.
Always perform a skin patch test before applying essential oil in your ear canal. The skin patch test will help you determine how your skin reacts to the substance.
Dilute the essential oil, and then spread the mixture on a quarter-sized area of skin. The inner arm is the best place to try the test. If there is no irritation and inflammation in 24 hours, the oil is safe for use.
There are a couple of different methods how you can use essential oils. The first one is to soak a cotton ball in diluted solution of essential oil and carrier oil, and then place the cotton ball lightly in the ear.
The method will allow the essential oil to seep slowly into the ear canal. If you are using this method, be careful not to force the cotton ball. Forcing can cause the fibers to get trapped inside your ear, and cause or worsen the infection.
Another method is to dilute essential oil and then use a clean dropper to release it directly into the ear canal 4. When applying essential oil with the dropper, keep your head tilted diagonally with the uninfected ear approaching the shoulder and infected ear facing the sky. Wait one minute, and then resume normal stance. Allow the oil to drop out naturally, and wipe away the excess with a clean cloth.
Last, but not least, you can rub diluted essential oil mixture around your ear. It is one of the simplest methods that will help reduce inflammation and pain. However, if the infection is in the middle ear, rubbing essential oil around the ear will not bring relief.
Risk and warnings
As mentioned previously, you should never use and apply undiluted essential oils to your skin and ear. This can cause irritation and worsen the symptoms. Test the diluted version first, and then apply.
If your eardrum has ruptured, you should not use essential oils for earache. In the case of ruptured eardrum, any pain in your ear will feel worse due to essential oils. Consult your doctor if the pain in the ear lasts for a couple of days and you are not sure.
Do not use more than 1-2 drops of essential oils for any treatment. Using more than that can cause the ear to become clogged.
Always perform one treatment, and then wait a few hours before using essential oils again. During those few hours, asses the state of your ear. If necessary, repeat the treatment.
Children, women who are breastfeeding, and pregnant women should exercise caution when using essential oils.
Best essential oils for ear infection
Lavender essential oil
Known as one of the most soothing, relaxing, and calming essential oils, lavender finds its usage for almost any condition or illness 5.
The purple flowers of the plant have been used for centuries in perfumes and scented sachets. And while lavender is one of the most popular essential oils in aromatherapy, the oil is also great for treating an ear infection.
Lavender works wonderfully in alleviating pain. One thing to note, lavender cannot be used inside the ear canal. Dab on some soothing lavender essential oil on the back of the ear, and you still get enough relief. Lavender is safe for use on children, and they find relief within just five minutes.
Lavender works best when earaches keep your children awake at night. Because the essential oil promotes sleep, it will help with the pain, but also ensure a good night’s sleep. The oil can be used four times per day for severe earaches.
Basil essential oil
Basil is derived from one of the best plants and spices in the world. Known for its fresh flavor popular in Italian food dishes, basil is a plant almost everyone has at home 6. The essential oil derived from that plant helps with inflammation and infection.
Basil works best when combined with oregano oil in a combination. Both of them are very potent and strong, so you have to dilute them with a carrier oil.
Add one drop of each oil to a teaspoon of carrier oil of your choosing. Dip a cotton ball in the mixture, and then press it gently into the affected ear. Wait few hours, and then repeat the process until the pain is alleviated.
Tea tree essential oil
The oil has potent antiseptic, antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties, making it ideal remedy for almost any infection and illness. Because of its potent properties, tea tree oil is an important part of herbal medicine.
Unlike other essential oils, tea tree oil can be diluted in apple cider vinegar. Being that ACV is also effective in treating infections, what you get is a potent mixture that will heal the symptoms and infection within hours.
Only completely organic apple cider vinegar will work. Others might contain harmful chemicals.
Combine one drop of tea tree oil and half a teaspoon of vinegar. Dip a cotton ball in the solution, and apply to the affected ear. Do not use inside the ear canal, as the oil is too strong for that.
Rosemary essential oil
Another oil that is popular in aromatherapy makes the list of best essential oils for an earache 8. The aromatic scent and flavor make rosemary popular in many culinary dishes, but its powerful and potent properties expand its usage.
For example, some people use rosemary oil in their shampoo and conditioner to fight off dandruff and baldness. Rosemary oil can also help with depression and anxiety.
As for your ear pain and earache, combine a drop of rosemary oil with a couple of drops of almond oil.
Mix the solution in the palm of your hand, and then rub the hands together to warm the oils. Massage the mixture into the back of the affected ear. Keep massaging until your skin completely absorbs the ils. Do not rub inside the ear.
Lemon essential oil
Lemon is one of the best oils for fighting off bacteria and viruses 9. That is why lemon is very popular for cleaning surfaces. If diluted, lemon essential oil is highly effective for killing infections on the skin as well.
Combine lemon essential oil and olive oil to get relief of earaches. Do not apply lemon directly to the skin, as the oil is too strong for that. Only use with a cotton ball placed in the ear.
Chamomile essential oil
Chamomile is one of the best herbs for soothing pain and providing relief in children 10. The flowers are so safe that even babies with an earache can use them.
Mix one drop of chamomile essential oil with a half of teaspoon of water. Use an eye dropper to put two drops of the solution in the affected ear. If your child is in a lot of pain and has a fever, use a half a teaspoon of colloidal silver to dilute the oil instead of water. Insert a cotton ball into the ear after adding the drops. This way, the ear will be protected until it heals.
Other treatments for ear infection
Even if you do not do anything, your ear infection might resolve on their own within one to two weeks. Symptoms like pain and inflammation clear within three days and the infection last a maximum of two weeks.
However, if you want to get relieved quicker, you need some treatment. In addition to using essential oils, you can try other remedies.
One example is warm compress, which can help with the inflammation in the ear. Opting for some over the counter pain medication is always an option to alleviate symptoms.
When you use treatments like OTC medications, the symptoms and infection should resolve after three days. If after the three-day window you are still experiencing symptoms, consult with a physician.
If the condition is too severe, a doctor might prescribe antibiotics to clear the infection. For those experiencing recurrent ear infections, consult with your doctor.