Health & Wellness

Ear Care 101: What Happens If You Put Alcohol in Your Ear?

Rubbing Alcohol is known as isopropyl alcohol. Rubbing Alcohol is a regular household item. Rubbing Alcohol is a common antiseptic, postoperative nausea treatment, and surface disinfectant used by healthcare professionals. In this article, we’ll explore: what happens if you put alcohol in your ear.

Some people apply it as a skin toner to get smooth skin or a deodorant. As a topical item for massages, people started employing rubbing Alcohol in the early 1920s. It is unsafe for humans to drink because it has been denatured, which means additional toxic products have been added to it.

Rubbing Alcohol has a high alcohol content, ranging from 60 to 80%. As a result, it might successfully eliminate bacteria or pathogens from wounds or surface areas. You can treat your ears with it, among many other home health and cleaning processes.

In this article, we’ll talk about the typical ear infections and problems people treat with Alcohol.

What Happens if you Put Alcohol in your Ear?

Putting alcohol in air

You can either make ear drops at home or buy them commercially. Ear doctors recommend mixing equal amounts of rubbing Alcohol and white vinegar to create a simple at-home remedy. A few drops put in the ear canal can help in the drying-out process and relieve pain. Alcohol may indicate an eardrum perforation if it causes intense pain.

Why do People Put Alcohol in their Ears?

Alcohol in ear

People use it to treat various ear conditions, such as:

  • swimmer’s ear
  • ear infections
  • ear blockage (earwax buildup)

Rubbing Alcohol for Swimmer’s Ear (Otitis Externa):

Swimmer’s ear, medically termed as otitis externa, arises primarily due to water retention in your ear after aquatic activities. This trapped moisture in the ear canal fosters bacterial growth.

Common Causes:

  • Prolonged water exposure from swimming or other water-related tasks.
  • Inserting objects such as cotton buds or fingers, which can damage the sensitive skin inside, as highlighted by the Mayo Clinic.

Symptoms to Watch For:

  • Ear pain
  • Itching in the ear canal
  • Redness around the ear
  • Drainage of clear, odorless fluid

Treatment with Rubbing Alcohol:

Many healthcare experts suggest using rubbing Alcohol for relief. Its evaporation process absorbs the lingering moisture, promoting ear dryness and possibly killing the underlying fungi and bacteria. To administer:

  • Apply a few drops of the Alcohol solution to the affected ear.

Additional Remedies: A warm washcloth or heating pad pressed against the inflamed ear can aid in drainage, further reducing pain and itching.

Rubbing Alcohol for Ear Infections

Types of Ear Infections:

  • Middle Ear Infections: Often caused by bacteria like Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae. Cold viruses are also known culprits.
  • Inner Ear Infections: Typically arise as secondary infections from the middle ear or from illnesses such as the flu or a cold.

Signs and Symptoms:

The Mayo Clinic outlines the following common symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Ear pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Hearing loss
  • Ear discharge
  • Itching or irritation in the ear

Rubbing Alcohol and its Efficacy:

There’s limited scientific evidence backing the effectiveness of rubbing Alcohol in treating ear infections. Most ear infections will naturally resolve within weeks.

A Natural Remedy:

Some holistic practitioners recommend a mixture of equal parts rubbing Alcohol and apple cider vinegar for treating outer ear infections. The rationale behind this:

  • Promotes drying in the ear
  • Hinders bacterial and fungal growth Given the antimicrobial and antibacterial properties of both rubbing Alcohol and ACV, this remedy is believed to target and eliminate bacteria and other harmful microorganisms.

Rubbing Alcohol for Ear Blockage

Rubbing Alcohol for Ear Blockage
USA, Drop, Ear, Healthcare And Medicine, Medicine
  • The ear naturally produces the right amount of earwax.
  • Excess wax typically exits as one chews and moves their jaw.

Causes of Ear Blockage:

  • Using cotton swabs pushes wax deeper into the ear canal, leading to blockages.
  • Blockages might manifest as ear pain, dizziness, and hearing impairment.

Importance of Ear Care:

  • Ear maintenance might be overlooked compared to routine face or hair care.
  • Ensuring regular ear care prevents excessive wax buildup.

The Role of Ear Flushing:

  • This is a method to eliminate surplus earwax or foreign materials from the ear.
  • According to Stanford Medicine, a typical ear flushing solution combines rubbing alcohol, white vinegar, and boric acid. This mix:
    • Dries the ear.
    • Removes wax and debris.
    • Eliminates bacteria and fungi in the ear canal.

Ways to Address Earwax:

  • People can employ ear irrigation kits or earwax softening drops to tackle earwax blockages.

Side Effects to Consider:

  • While ear flushing is generally effective, it can sometimes lead to:
    • Tinnitus.
    • Discomfort in the ear canal.
    • Dizziness.

How to Clean your Ears with Alcohol? 

clean your ears with alcohol

People who have home irrigation kits can take the following steps: Let’s explore: How to clean ears with alcohol. 

  • Wash your hands
  • To catch the water draining from your ear, sit up straight and place a towel on your shoulder.
  • To help remove earwax from the ear, put the syringe up and toward the back of the ear.
  •  Lightly press the syringe to let water into your ear. If there is any pressure or pain, stop the ear flushing.
  • Put some drops of rubbing Alcohol on the ear or dry it with a cloth.
  • Repeat it two or three times every day.
  • After five tries, if earwax still won’t come out, people should stop using the kit and consult a doctor about other wax removal methods.

Recommended: Why Does My Throat Hurt When I Wake Up

Side Effects of Using Alcohol in the Ear:

Side Effects of Using Alcohol in the Ear

Potential Damage to Inner Ear:

  • Excessive alcohol exposure can harm the inner ear’s hair cells.
  • These cells, crucial for transmitting sound to the brain, do not regenerate once damaged.
  • Consequently, any injury to these cells can lead to irreversible hearing loss.

Impact on Ear Infections:

  • While alcohol may expedite the drying process within the ear, it doesn’t necessarily address underlying infections.

Recommended Treatment:

  • To effectively combat infections and alleviate inflammation, medical professionals often suggest corticosteroids and antibiotic ear drops.

Safety and Precautions Tips to Put Alcohol in Your Ear

  • If you want to keep the alcohol and apple cider vinegar solution from getting on your clothes, put a cotton ball in your ear.
  • Before applying anything to your ear, such as rubbing alcohol or apple cider vinegar, consult a doctor for a complete diagnosis if you experience any ear infection symptoms. 
  •  If you need ear flushing, visit a doctor. Usually, a doctor performs this procedure. 
  • Avoid using this alcohol and apple cider vinegar treatment if you have a middle ear infection and are experiencing ear drainage.

Final Words:

Rubbing Alcohol is a versatile chemical that efficiently kills bacteria because it has a high amount of Alcohol. Medical professionals can use it as an antibacterial agent in hospitals. People can utilise it at home for various things, such as vinegar-infused ear drops, to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with ear infections. Earwax can also be removed by gently rubbing alcohol and vinegar drops together. People should visit a doctor if symptoms continue or worsen while using the home remedy. I hope you have gotten the answers to your questions; if you wanted to know: what happens if you put alcohol in your ear? 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to put Alcohol in your ear?

While many use rubbing alcohol and vinegar mix as a home remedy, there is a risk. If such solutions penetrate the eardrum, they can be ototoxic, leading to irreversible hearing damage.

How long should you let alcohol rub in your ear?

Use a dropper to place two to three drops of the solution into each ear. Allow it to settle for about five minutes, then tilt your head to let it drain out.

Medical Disclaimer: Remember, it’s always wise to consult with a medical professional before trying any home remedy, especially if you’re uncertain or if the issue persists.

Kelly Han

Dr. Kelly Han is a seasoned medical professional with a passion for holistic wellness and integrative health. Based in San Francisco, her expertise spans across various domains of health, from fitness and skincare to oral health and weight management. Understanding the intricate connections between different aspects of health, Dr. Han believes in a comprehensive approach. Whether it's the latest skincare regimen, effective weight loss strategies, or understanding hormonal imbalances, she's dedicated to providing readers with evidence-based advice and actionable insights on a wide array of health topics. Through her articles, Dr. Han aims to empower individuals to take charge of their well-being, offering them the knowledge and tools they need to lead healthier, more vibrant lives. Join her in exploring the multifaceted world of health, beauty, and wellness.

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