9 Essential Oils for an Earache & Ear Infections

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated - Medically reviewed by Zemira Barnes (MS)

Using essential oils for an earache is a popular and effective remedy, given the anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, soothing, and antioxidant properties of so many of these oils. Earaches can be caused by many different things, including foreign bodies in the ear, excess earwax buildup, or teeth grinding at night. However, other potential causes of earaches are more serious, such as chronic ear infections, problems with your thyroid, tonsillitis or sinus infections, among many others. Due to the broad range of possible reasons, the versatile effects of essential oils are particularly useful in quickly remedying these issues and relieving the pain.

Earaches are primarily experienced in children, but there are many adults who regularly suffer from this condition as well. Dr. Facione Noreen, University of California-San Francisco School of Nursing, in her report on otitis media says, “Each year in the United States there are 30 million visits to pediatricians for the treatment of acute otitis media infections (middle ear infections)”.When various infections get into the ear canal or perhaps cause inflammation behind the eardrum, it can cause intense pain. For this reason, constant crying is a sign that your child may have an ear infection. The other common symptoms include muffled hearing, nausea, dizziness, and the constant sensation that something is in your ear. Not only can this condition be annoying, but the underlying cause can be dangerous to your overall health. A study by Dr. Ernesto Kahan, who is famously known as the world creator of harmonious peace, and has published numerous books and studies claims, that besides waiting period, an herbal extract solution may be more beneficial than antibiotics for earaches in children. Therefore, the at-home use of essential oils for an earache is an excellent idea, particularly for those people who suffer from chronic ear infections. [1] [2] [3]

List of Essential Oils for an Earache

There are many excellent essential oils for an earache pain relief, but the most reputable and trusted are basil, rosemary, tea tree, olive, oregano, thyme, peppermint, garlic, lavender, and mustard oil.

Lavender Oil

This powerful and popular essential oil can quickly reduce the pain of an earache and soothe the inflammation in your ear canal. This is one of the most widely accepted natural remedies for earaches, approved even by medical professionals.

How to Use: Mix a few drops of lavender oil with 1 teaspoon of coconut oil and rub gently on the outer ear. Do not stick your fingers or the oil deep into your ear, as this can exacerbate the inflammation and pain if you have a negative reaction.

Garlic Oil

Pure garlic oil contains high concentrations of allicin, which can help to reduce the inflammation in your ears and soothe pain thanks to its antioxidant behavior. Furthermore, this oil is antibacterial in nature, so it can take care of any underlying infections in the ear, says Dr. Norbert Weber, Department of Microbiology, Brigham Young University, US, in a study. [4]

How to Use: People often mix garlic oil with a small amount of olive oil and then topically apply it to the outer and inner ear. However, garlic oil can be very irritating by itself, so do not use an undiluted form of this oil. Also, if the eardrum is ruptured, you should not put this oil in the ear.

Oregano Oil

This essential oil is packed with active ingredients and antioxidants that can quickly clear up any infections or blockage in the ear, and relieve pain at the same time. [5]

How to Use: You can gently apply a few drops of oregano oil (typically blended with a carrier oil, such as almond or olive oil), to the outside of the ear, at the point where the ear joins the cheeks, but do not put this oil in the actual ear canal.

Peppermint Oil

This soothing oil is legendary for its ability to rapidly eliminate inflammation, making it ideal for use on a painful earache. This oil is even approved for use in children, although caution should be used, and the oil should always be diluted in some way with a carrier oil. [6]

How to Use: Mix 4-5 drops of peppermint oil with jojoba oil or olive oil and then rub gently around the outside of the ear. Allow the oil to absorb completely before wiping dry.

Mustard Oil

The antibacterial capacity of mustard oil is often overlooked, but it can be very effective if you are confident that an ear infection is causing your earache. There are also anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds in this oil that can soothe the inflamed tissues and reduce symptoms like muffled hearing. Studies show that this oil is has been highly valued for a number of benefits in the Ayurveda. [7]

How to Use: You can mix a few drops of mustard oil in a glass of warm water and then gently pour it into the ear canal. Allow it to sit for 30-60 seconds before pouring it out. If your earache is the result of an eardrum rupture, do not use this remedy.

A crying infant girl with an earache

A small baby suffering from pain Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Basil Oil

This is one of the most effective essential oils for an earache, as it possesses antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiviral qualities, so even a small amount can soothe an earache in no time at all, provided you use this powerful oil responsibly. This is confirmed in the research cited in the Journal of Applied Sciences Research. [8]

How to Use: Dab a small cotton ball in this oil, but do not soak it completely. Then, place the cotton ball against your ear and place a piece of gauze to hold it in place. The oil does not need to be pushed into the ear canal, as the aromatic compounds are enough to be effective.

Tea Tree Oil

Some earaches are caused by a buildup of fluid or material in the ear, while others are caused by infections. Fortunately, tea tree oil has astringent properties to dry up any fluid, along with some of the strongest antiviral and antibacterial qualities of essential oil. This is an incredibly trusted and reliable solution for earaches, as per a study cited in the Journal of Essential Oil Research. [9]

How to Use: Add 3 drops of this oil to 1 tablespoon of olive oil and heat it slightly to thin the mixture. Then, using an eyedropper, drip this mixture into the ear canal, no more than 6-8 drops, and hold it in the ear for 10 minutes before draining.

Olive Oil

If you want to clear out excess earwax or simply soothe the inflammation of an earache, pouring a bit of olive oil can help ease pain and also break up that hard earwax. Since this isn’t an essential oil, the concentration isn’t dangerous, and this remedy can be used quite liberally unless the eardrum has ruptured.

How to Use: Pour 1/4 teaspoon of olive oil into the ear canal and hold it there for 5-10 minutes before allowing it to drain. This will loosen earwax and deliver antioxidants and antibacterial compounds to the possible site of the infection.

Thyme Oil

Thymol is the active ingredient in thyme oil, which has incredible anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, which may not necessarily solve the underlying cause of the ear infection, but it can definitely help you deal with the discomfort! [10]

How to Use: You can mix a few drops of thyme oil with lavender oil or olive oil and then gently apply it to the outside of the ear. Do not place thyme oil inside the ear canal, as this can worsen the infection or cause additional inflammation.

Word of Caution: While these essential oils for earaches are highly effective, there are some health concerns that you should take into consideration. Some earaches are indicative of a much more serious underlying condition, such as Bell’s palsy or Meniere’s disease, and while these are quite rare, a chronic earache should be taken seriously. If your earaches persist or become debilitating, you should see a doctor for a complete check. Furthermore, before adding a potent and powerful essential oil to your health regimen, particularly a delicate area of the body like the ears, it is best to check with your doctor. There is the potential for allergic reactions and skin irritation with many of these oils, particularly for people with sensitive skin.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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