How to Use Ear Drops

(Having someone else give you the ear drops may make this procedure easier.)

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.
  • Gently clean your ear with a damp facecloth and then dry your ear.
  • Warm the drops to near body temperature by holding the container in the palm of your hand for a few minutes.
  • If the drops are a suspension or if the label indicates, shake the bottle well for 10 seconds.
  • Check the dropper tip to make sure that it is not chipped or cracked.
  • Draw the medication into the dropper, or hold the dropper-top bottle with the dropper tip down.
  • Tilt the affected ear up or lie on your side. Pull the ear backward and upward (or if giving to a child younger than 3 years of age, pull backward and downward) to open the ear canal.
  • Avoid touching the dropper tip against your ear or anything else; the dropper must be kept clean.
  • Place the correct number of drops in your ear. Then gently press on the small skin flap (tragus) over the ear to help the drops to run into the ear canal.
  • Keep your ear tilted up for a few minutes or insert a soft cotton plug in your ear, whichever method has been recommended by your pharmacist or doctor.
  • Replace and tighten the cap or dropper right away.
  • Wash your hands to remove any medication.

Adapted, with permission, from the Michigan Pharmacists Association's Patient Education Program.

AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.

Last Reviewed: September 1, 2010.