7 Best Essential Oils for Earache That Works | Pain Care

7 Best Essential Oils for Earache

One of the very common problem in the ear and adjoining areas is an earache. The anatomical structure of ear is described in three distinct part, including outer ear, middle and inner ear.

The outer ear is a flapped, curved muscular and cartilage-made structure that extends to the earlobe, ear-canal, and eardrum. The outer ear catch the sound wave and transfer to middle ear through ear canal.

The middle ear is present in between eardrum and inner ear. Three small bonny structures are attached with middle ear and transmit the sound wave to the inner ear.

The inner ear assists in body balancing by holding labyrinth. The middle ear is susceptible to get infected among the three ear structures and often leads to an earache. 

Most of us may have experienced this kind of a pain on one or more occasions in a lifetime. An earache is very difficult to tolerate, as it spreads to adjoining parts and the whole facial movement becomes painful.

Earache can occur at any age, but it is more commonly found in children. Some of the symptoms associated with an earache are as follows:

  • Affected individual especially children become irritated with continuous crying, and fussiness are common problems.
  • Fever is common in case of ear infection.
  • Pulling of ear causes pain.
  • Sleep disturbance due to sudden increase of pain intensity in the ear during night hours.
  • Oozing of fluid from ear canal.
  • Difficulty in body balancing.
  • Hearing difficulty or unable to hear low volume sound [1]

Do we know what are the common causes of an earache? How can the essential oils be effective to treat an earache? How is essential oil effective to reduce an earache? Here we will discuss the details of an earache and treat the symptom with essential oil application.

Common Causes of Earache

Earache is commonly associated with a sore throat, cold and flu.

The eustachian tube is a common junction between the throat and middle ear and through this passage, air is transferred to the middle ear and assist to maintain the air balance.

Adenoids are soft tissue structure made up of immune cells. The positioning of this soft tissue barrier in between the nose and middle ear not only provide a padding system but also fight against the germs coming through the air from mouth.[1] But in case of compromised immunity or under the developed immune system (in case of children), the infection occurs in the middle ear and earache develops.

Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae are two very common microorganisms detected, which causes an ear infection. [2]

The common types of ear infections are as follows:


Acute otitis media (AOM) is an ear infection affects the middle ear, in which fluid is accumulated behind the eardrum and inflammation takes place. It is the more common cause of an earache and affects mostly children. Fever is often associated with this infection


Otitis media with effusion (OME) occurs after an initial ear infection is over and symptoms may disappear; but some discomfort in the ear prolongs due to the accumulation of fluid behind the eardrum, which can be seen only through special ear examining instrument.


Chronic otitis media with effusion (COME) is a resultant of recurrence of ear infection or the accumulated fluid in the eardrum unable to clear out and linger in the middle ear for a prolonged period. It can cause hearing loss. [1]

The eustachian tube assists to excrete fluid trapped in the middle ear. When individual suffering from cold and flu, then the mucus is stuck in the Eustachian tube and block the tube. This leads to accumulation of fluid in the middle ear and causes ear pain.

As we discuss earlier, the children are more vulnerable to get an ear infection, especially Acute otitis media because of the following reasons:

  • Child stay in daycare facilities.
  • Bottle feeding.
  • Habituated with soother.

Besides these, males and, Caucasians are more susceptible towards ear infection.

Certain disease conditions, like tonsil enlargement or enlargement of adenoids, medical history of AOM, family history of Acute otitis media, active or passive smoking, nasopharynx anatomical disorders, including Down syndrome and cleft palate etc.  can also trigger ear infection related earache.

However, upper respiratory tract infection, insertion of a foreign substance in the ear canal can also cause an earache.[3]

In case of administration of foreign object need medical assistance to clear out. But don't try by yourself, as it may harm the internal structure of the ear.

In some cases, fluid is accumulated during swimming and fluid lodging in the ear canal cause an earache and untreated condition may lead to ear infection and prolong an earache. 

How can essential oils help in an earache (pain in the ear)?

The microbial attacks of Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae are very common in respiratory tract infection, which often spread to ear and causes an earache.

In some geographical regions, these microbial attacks are very frequent and people get commonly infected. In addition, microbial resistance makes the treatment difficult.

Therapeutic experts have suggested limiting the antimicrobial application, as the microbial resistance often leads to treatment failure. [2]

Therefore, therapeutic experts do not recommend to treat uncomplicated acute infection with antimicrobial agents, as they believe it unnecessarily increase the stress microbial resistance.

The traditional application of essential oil was only limited in aromatherapy till recent developments.

Natural health investigational studies found that essential oil not only acts as a mind refresher or stress reliever; but also has multiple therapeutic benefits, including antimicrobial, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.

In most of the cases, earache is not a serious health issue and sometimes it reduces its own way.

Therefore, most of the time applying synthetic medication for an earache do only amplify the treatment cost and chemical load in our physiological system.

It is also quite common to add few drops of fixed oil (like mustard oil or coconut oil) at the external ear opening to float the ear wax and easy excretion and prevent skin drying. Addition of essential oil with the lightweight carrier oils, such as olive oil helps to eradicate an earache.

The application of essential oil in the treatment of an earache, rather ear infection is considered as an alternative therapy.

The topical application of essential oil can reduce the necessity of systemic application of antibiotic. Therefore, the essential oil is not only an effective treatment for an earache, but it also reduces the load of systematic administration of antimicrobials.

Essential oils are volatile in nature and easily get vaporized in normal temperature. This vapors obtained from certain essential oils have bactericidal property.

The essential oil application in an earache is effective therapeutic measure, as the following benefits are obtained :

The tympanic membrane is impermeable to topical application of liquid antimicrobials, therefore, volatile nature of essential oils get vaporized and provides an antimicrobial effect.

The application of any topical therapeutic agent in the ear is possible through outer ear. The vaporized form of essential oil can easily spread from outer ear to middle ear (the site of infection) due to its diffusive nature and is effective to treat the underlying cause by killing the microbes and reducing the pain symptoms.

Therefore, application of essential oil not only provide symptomatic relief, but it also treats the underlying cause. [2]

In addition, treating earache with essential oil is also effective to provide antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and soothing properties. [4]

Essential Oils Application Guide

There are several methods to apply essential oil to treat an earache. Following are some most convenient method to apply essential oil to ear:

Cotton ball method - 

This method is usually recommended for a mild earache.  Select the essential oil, which you find to be more effective or through consult with an expert.

In a closed container, mix selected essential oils and carrier oil (for diluting the essential oil strength). Then add 2-3 drops of oil in a cotton ball with the help of a dropper and place the cotton at the opening of the external ear.

The vapor gradually is evaporated and reach the infection site.  This method can avoid direct insertion of essential oil in the ear canal.

Note: Do not soak the cotton ball in the essential oil blend.

Hot compression

Take hot water in a bowl and completely soak a cotton cloth or small piece of towel. Rinse the excess water and few drops of selected essential oil in it. Then place the cloth piece on the affected ear. Repeat this process till feeling better.


Select your essential oil and add few drops in a carrier oil. Then take the preparation in the fingers and gently massage the oil around the ear. This process needs to be continued twice or thrice a day.

Insertion of Cotton Ball

Select the essential oil or take recommended essential oil and mix it with carrier oil (like olive oil, coconut oil). Gently warm the mixture. Then take an absorbent cotton ball and completely soak it into the hot oil preparation. Then insert the cotton ball into the external ear cavity.


Poultice is usually prepared with garlic or onion. Both of these having sulphur containing active constituents, which can assist to treat earache. Warm the garlic clove or onion and wrap into a flannel cloth. Then place cloth over the affected ear and keep the cloth till the poultice become cool down. Repeat the process. [5]

Useful Essential Oil for Earache

There are several essential oil preparations are available in the market for treating earache.

Here we discuss seven selected essential oils, which are scientifically tested for their analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity to control earache and can treat underlying cause. 


Garlic Oil

Traditionally, garlic has wide application in folk medicine due to its antioxidant, anti-infective, anti-inflammatory property.


Garlic oil is an effective choice to treat earache related to upper respiratory tract infection.

A small-scale human study has reported that the common cold can be rid-off by taking garlic supplement. [6]

Therefore, common cold-related ear infections can be prevented by taking garlic oil. In addition, there is lots of published testimonials that reported garlic oil can effectively treat earache due to its antibiotic property. [7]

The antibiotic property of garlic is well researched at Washington State University. The laboratory research reported that presence of diallyl sulphide in garlic can penetrate the membrane present in germ colonies and kill them.

The antibiotic property of garlic oil is 100 percent more effective than two conventional antibiotics, including erythromycin and ciprofloxacin. [8]

In addition, garlic oil can improve immunity and also possess anti-inflammatory property due to the presence of polyphenolic bioactive compounds.

The active constituent of garlic oil is allicin, which can penetrate eardrum and reached to middle ear to kill the infecting agent. In addition, garlic oil application reduce the fluid loudening inside the eardrum. [9]

There are several clinical trials which showed that garlic oil is effective to treat ear infection. Otikon is a garlic oil containing naturopathic product for treating ear infection, including acute otitis media. [10]

Precautionary measure
In case of severe earache, consult with medical doctor and examine the underlying cause.

How to apply?
Garlic oil supplementation is easily available in the market. If you buy the product, then topically apply the oil at the front and back portion of the ear with gentle rubbing. In addition, add two to three drops of garlic oil in the ear canal twice a day.

Garlic oil recipe
This garlic oil recipe can be prepared in your own kitchen by spending only 10 to 15 minutes.

In this preparation, the required ingredients are crushed garlic clove and olive oil as a carrier oil. Take both ingredients in a pan and boil for few minutes and then put off the flame.

Now, cool down the preparation and then pour the liquid into the ear canal with the help of glass dropper. During pouring tilt the head to one side for 10 to 15 minutes, then drain out the excess oil and repeat the same in another ear. [7] 


Oil of Basil

Oil of basil is collected from the leaves of Ocimum basilicum. The antimicrobial property of this essential oil is well researched.

Fresh Basil

A placebo-controlled animal trial result reported that oil of basil has potent antimicrobial effect against H. influenzae and S. pneumoniae and effective to treat and heal the infection.

In addition, herbal researchers Nasser A. Awadah Ali and William N. Setzerb also reported that oil of basil is not only effective against bacterial infection, but its strong antimicrobial effect is effective against viral and fungal infection also.

Immuno-modulatory effect of basil oil is effective to strengthen overall immunity and prevent compromised immunity related earache.

The strengthening of immunity can also accelerate healing process. The pharmacological activity of essential oil of basil also reported its potent analgesic effect and is therefore effective to reduce an earache.

Moreover, basil oil has CNS depressant property and can reduce the pain signaling and induce sleep. All these mentioned mechanisms of actions of basil oil can effectively treat an earache symptomatically, as well as curing the underlying cause. [8]

Precautionary measures
The prolonged application of basil oil as an analgesic is not recommended because it causes involuntary muscular contraction.
Carrier oil like olive oil is usually required to make proper blended preparation, because concentrated basil oil may cause tolerability issues in some individuals. [9]

How to use?
Take a cotton ball and add 2 to 3 drops of basil oil, but do not soak the cotton ball in the essential oil . Then put the cotton ball in the ear cavity. Need not to insert it into the ear cavity, as the basil oil vapor is enough to treat an earache. [13]

Recipe for Better Result
In basil oil preparation, a required amount of thymol, carvacrol, salicylaldehyde, and ethanol addition provides synergistic action and more effectively treat an earache by combating ear infection. [2]


Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil application in earache remedy is effective because its wide antimicrobial effect can treat an ear infection.

Tea Tree Oil

Ear infection or associated earache can be the result of invading bacterial, viral or fungal attacks. Tea tree oil possesses antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal effect.

The antiseptic property of tea tree oil accelerates the healing process. The US National Library of Medicine had ranked the effectiveness of tea tree oil in treating an ear infection. [14]

Tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory and pain relieving property, which is effective to treat ear pain and swelling. In addition, application of tea tree oil is effective to drain out the accumulated fluid from ear-canal and provides drying effect. [15]

Precautionary measures
Tea tree oil can cause skin irritation and thus skin patch test needs to be performed before applying this in a wide area.

Tea tree oil is only for external application, the internal application can cause a harmful effect.

Dilute tea tree oil with other carrier oils, such as olive oil, coconut oil etc.

How to apply?
Take one tablespoonful of warm water and add 3-5 drops of tea tree oil. Then gently apply the preparation topically in the ear and surrounding area.

The addition of warm water in this preparation causes vaporization of the essential oil and provides an effective result. [15]

Recipe of tea tree oil to get better result
In a closed container take two tablespoonfuls of olive oil, one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 3 to 4 drops of tea tree oil.

Then mix them with stirring and gently warm the mixture.

The patient needs to lie down at side direction by keeping the affected ear in an upward direction and a towel needs to be placed beneath the head.

Pour two to three drops of a warm mixer with the help of glass dropper. Hold the liquid in the ear canal for 3 - 4 minutes and then turn on another side for draining the liquid into the towel.

This method should be followed twice or thrice a day for 2 to 3 days. This can treat the ear infection and cure an earache. [15]


Clove oil

Several research data showed that eugenol present in clove oil has analgesic, local anesthetic, and antiseptic properties.


The strong analgesic effect is obtained due to blocking the sensory nerve stimulation by acting on opioidergic and/or the cholinergic systems and obstruct pain signals (antinociceptive effect). [16, 17]

Topical application of clove oil is effective to treat an earache. The traditional application of clove oil in a toothache is also indirectly effective to reduce an earache.

Because a toothache related earache is often described as referred pain due to Temporomandibular joint disorder. [18]

In addition, the external application of clove oil is sufficient to reduce ear infection because of its potent microbicide activity. In addition, the antioxidant property of clove oil improves overall immunity and healing process become faster. [19]

Precautionary measure

Eugenol present in clove oil can increase bleeding time by delaying blood coagulation process. Therefore, clove oil should not be used in case of an individual having blood coagulation related disorders.

Clove oil has skin and mucous membrane irritability effect, therefore direct application to the skin or mucous membrane can cause burning sensation.

The clove oil vapor can trigger breathing difficulty due to initiation of the allergic reaction. Therefore, asthma patient or allergen sensitive individual should not use clove oil.

Experts also do not recommend clove oil to individuals having hypoglycemic (sudden reduction blood sugar level) tendency, because clove oil also lowers blood glucose level.

Clove oil administration is also restricted in pregnant women, lactating mother and children below 12 years of age because a higher dose of clove oil can cause liver and kidney problem and associated symptoms like nausea, vomiting, breathing difficulty are more prominent in children and infants. [20]

How to apply?
Few drops of clove oil can be gently massaged behind the ear and neck and can help to improve an earache.[12]

Clove oil recipe for better result
Mix 3 drops of clove oil with two teaspoons of sesame oil and gently warm the mixture. Then gently pour the mixture into the ear canal.

Hold for 5 to 10 minutes, then drain the excess oil. Repeat the same in the next ear. [21]


Chamomile Oil

German chamomile and Roman chamomile flowers are the main sources of chamomile oil. The anti-inflammatory property of chamomile oil is effective to treat an earache.

Chamomile Flowers

It inhibits Lipopolysaccharides & suppresses prostaglandin synthesis.

Thus, it is even effective to treat inflammation related pain symptoms. In addition, inhalation of chamomile oil assists to treat the common cold. Therefore, the risk of an earache due to common cold can be minimized.

Earache related to sleep disturbance can also be eliminated by treating with chamomile oil, as it promotes sedation by promoting a calming effect.

Study result found that this essential oil can able to bind with benzodiazepine and GABA receptors. Chamomile oil also has lubricating property and it may help to release the accumulated fluid and ear wax. 

A double-blind clinical research also showed that chamomile oil application assists in wound healing process. [22]

Thus all these, mechanisms are effective to treat an earache.

Precautionary measures
A higher dose of Chamomile oil can cause drowsiness due to its strong sedative effect, therefore dose is an important factor to prevent this effect.

Individuals, who are hypersensitive, Chamomile oil application may cause an allergic reaction.

Chamomile oil can interact with anticoagulant medication and it inhibits hepatic-enzymatic action and increases the other drug activity by reducing the drug metabolism. [23]

How to use?
Few drops of chamomile oil can be applied behind the affected ear or heat chamomile tea bag and place it on the affected ear at the bedtime. [24,25]

Chamomile oil Recipe for Better Result
Colloidal silver mixed with chamomile oil and put a drop of this mixer on the affected ear. It will be an effective remedy for a severe earache due to infection. [26] 


Rosemary Essential Oil

Camphor, 1,8-cineole, α-pinene, and carnosol are primary active constituents present in rosemary essential oil. Combination of these active constituents is able to provide the strong analgesic effect.

Rosemary Leaves

It is effective for treating earache related to neurogenic pain and inflammatory pain.

The mechanism of action of analgesic action of rosemary essential oil may involve opioid and serotonergic endogenous system or GABAergic system.

In addition, the combination with other conventional analgesic medications like paracetamol or codeine, rosemary essential oil provides an additive effect by inducing cytochromes enzymatic activity. [27]

Precautionary measures

Rosemary essential oil is only for external application; ingestion or systemic administration may cause spasms, vomiting, coma and pulmonary edema etc.

Higher dose may cause an allergic reaction. Therefore, the recommended dose is an important precautionary measure to avoid the unwanted effect.

Rosemary essential oil may not be suitable for the diabetic patient, as it alters blood sugar level.

Rosemary essential oil interacts with other drugs including ACE inhibitors (hypertensive drugs), blood-thinning drugs, diuretic, and lithium. [28]

How to apply?
Mix few drops of rosemary essential oil with almond oil. Then gently warm the oil and gently massage around the ear with fingers. This helps to relieve an earache. [26]

Rosemary essential oil recipe

Combination of rosemary essential oil with other vegetable oil provide lubricating effect and assist to drain out the excess fluid retain in the ear canal along with ear wax. [29]


Eucalyptus essential oil

he analgesic effect of eucalyptus oil can be obtained through controlling both the central and peripheral nervous system.

In addition, it also possesses strong anti-inflammatory effect by inhibiting neutrophil-dependent and independent inflammatory activities. [30]

Eucalyptus leaves

Aldehydes, terpenes, and phenolics based bioactive compounds present in eucalyptus oil have potential antimicrobial effect against bacterial, fungal, and viral infections. [31]

In some cases, chest and nose congestion due to cold or flu symptom also trigger an earache.

Eucalyptus oil assists in loosening phlegm and relieve the symptom and associated complication, including an earache. [32]

Therefore, topical application of this essential oil is an effective remedy for an earache.

Precautionary measures
Topical application of eucalyptus oil is not recommended for pediatric patients under 2 years of age, as it causes skin irritation.

Individuals suffering from asthma, hepatic disorder, renal problem, seizures, or hypotensive (low blood pressure) need doctor's advice prior to applying eucalyptus oil.

Pregnant women and nursing mother should not use eucalyptus oil.

Eucalyptus oil is only for external application. [32]

How to use
Massage with few drops of eucalyptus oil and coconut oil mixture behind the ear can provide pain relief.
In addition, inhalation of steam of eucalyptus oil can help to release the chest and nasal congestion. [33] 

Earache can usually be controlled if the underlying cause is subsided. The application of essential oil can be an effective remedy for an earache and potential to treat the infection.

It is not necessary that always bacterial infection causes an earache, sometimes viral or fungal infection do also cause an earache, where the antibiotic application is not a wise choice.

Most of the essential oils have a broad-spectrum antimicrobial effect and thus, the unnecessary antibiotic application can be controlled.

Experts usually recommend that instead of selecting one essential oil, a combination of two or more than two essential oil blends can provide more effective result due to synergistic or additive effect.

In case of eardrum perforation, the direct insertion of essential oil in the ear canal or through cotton ball is strictly restricted. It has been also suggested that underlying disease condition detection is very important to get an effective result and avoiding unwanted outcome.

Some symptoms like bleeding or oozing out fluid from ear canal need immediate medical attention.

References +

Dr. Sachin

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