What Are Ciprofloxacin Ear Drops Used For?
Your healthcare provider may recommend using ciprofloxacin ear drops if you have an infection of the outer ear (sometimes called "swimmer's ear"). This antibiotic product works to kill infection-causing bacteria by interfering with an enzyme called DNA gyrase. The drops are sometimes used in an "off-label" fashion to treat infections of the middle ear.
Ciprofloxacin ear drops (Cetraxal®) are a prescription ear drop approved to treat bacterial infections of the outer ear or ear canal, known medically as acute otitis externa. This type of ear infection is sometimes called "swimmer's ear."
When people think of ear infections, they often think of the most common type of ear infection, otitis media. Otitis externa is not the same as otitis media. Otitis media is a middle ear infection, occurring behind the eardrum. Otitis externa affects the outer ear and ear canal.
The ear canal is the part of the ear that connects the outer ear to the eardrum. When the ear canal or the outer ear becomes infected with bacteria, it is called acute otitis externa. The type of bacteria that might cause otitis externa include:
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Streptococcus bacteria types.
Otitis externa is often caused by excessive water exposure to the ear, which can happen when people swim a lot. This is the reason why otitis externa is often called "swimmer's ear." When water enters the ear canal, it softens the skin in the ear, allowing bacteria to collect and enter the skin more easily.
However, water exposure is not the only risk factor for an outer ear infection. Other things that may lead to an infection include:
- Excessive cleaning or removal of ear wax, which can serve to protect the ear canal
- Cuts or scratches in the ear canal, which can happen when things are put in the ear, such as cotton swabs
- Wearing objects or devices that plug the ear canal, such as hearing aids, ear buds, or ear plugs.
The first sign of an outer ear infection is a feeling of fullness in the ear. Sometimes, the ear will feel itchy, too. Other symptoms of an outer ear infection include:
- Pain, especially when the ear is touched or pulled
- Ear drainage
- Facial swelling near the ear
- Decreased hearing.
Ciprofloxacin ear drops are an antibiotic used to treat an outer ear infection after it occurs. It works by killing the bacteria that are causing the infection. Specifically, this product is used to treat outer ear infections caused by the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa or Staphylococcus aureus.
Ciprofloxacin ear drops do not prevent an ear infection from occurring. There are steps you can take to help reduce your risk for ear infections, such as:
- Avoid excessive cleaning of the ear and wax removal. If you believe you have wax build-up in your ear, talk to your healthcare provider about the best way to clean your ears.
- Avoid sticking objects into your ear, including fingers, cotton swabs, or anything that may damage the skin in the ear.
- If you swim a lot, shake your ears dry after swimming, or use earplugs or ear drops made especially for swimmers. Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider about these products.