What medications are used in the treatment of otitis externa (OE)?

Updated: Mar 09, 2020
  • Author: Ariel A Waitzman, MD, FRCSC; Chief Editor: Ravindhra G Elluru, MD, PhD  more...
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Answer

Most cases of otitis externa (OE) are caused by superficial bacterial infections and can be treated with over-the-counter analgesics and topical eardrops. Commonly used topical eardrops are acetic acid drops, which change the pH of the ear canal; antibacterial drops, which control bacterial growth; and antifungal preparations. Oral or parenteral antibiotics are reserved for severe cases. Otic antibiotic and steroid combinations have shown to be highly successful in treatment. The corticosteroid ingredient decreases inflammation and can help to ease the pain. These eardrops treat bacterial infection and reduce canal edema. The agents commonly prescribed for treating otitis externa are associated with cure rates between 87% and 97%. [19] In severe cases, oral or intravenous (IV) antibiotic therapy and narcotic analgesics may be required.


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