Ciprofloxacin is a drug that is used to treat otitis externa (‘swimmer’s ear’).


Ciprofloxacin is an ear solution form of fluoroquinolone antibiotic that is used in the treatment of a condition called otitis externa, more commonly known as ‘swimmer’s’ ear.

Otitis externa is a bacterial infection that affects the ear canal, as well as the external part of the ear. The condition is painful and irritating, causing pain, swelling, and reddening of the ear. Ciprofloxacin works by preventing the growth of the bacteria and killing them, so that the condition cannot spread.

Ciprofloxacin comes in the form of a solution (ear drops) and is available via prescription from your physician. In the US, the drug is known by its common brand name, Cetraxal.

Condition(s) treated

• otitis externa

Type of medicine

• fluoroquinolone antibiotic
• solution (ear drops)

Side effects

In addition to their desired effects, some drugs can also produce a few unwanted effects. You may not experience any adverse effects at all, but if you do, you might need to seek medical advice.

If you notice any of the following unwanted effects after you begin using ciprofloxacin ear drops, check with your doctor straight away:

• itching, burning, reddening, swelling, rash, or pain in or around your ear
• changes to your hearing
• discharge or drainage from your ear
• earache
• a fever

There are some side effects that do not usually require any further medical intervention, as they resolve by themselves after a week or so, when your body has become used to the drug. Your doctor may give you some advice on how to prevent or manage these effects, but always check with a healthcare professional if you are concerned or if any of the effects persist for more than a week or so.

Self-resolving side effects in patients using ciprofloxacin ear drops commonly include headaches.

Some patients may experience other effects that are not mentioned here. If this applies to you, always check with your GP or specialist for further guidance.


Your prescription of ciprofloxacin ear drops will be supplied with an information leaflet. It is important that you read the information and follow the instructions given. If you do not understand how to use the product, ask your pharmacist or doctor for help.

Your ciprofloxacin ear drops will be supplied in small containers for one-time use. After you have applied the ear drops, discard the empty container.

This medication is designed for use in the ear only. Do not place ciprofloxacin drops in your nose or eyes, and do not swallow it. If you inadvertently swallow the medicine or get it in your eyes, seek medical assistance immediately.

To achieve the best results from using this treatment, it is important that you keep the affected ear dry and clean. Try to avoid getting your ear wet when bathing and showering. Do not go swimming until the infection has cleared up and your doctor advises you that it is safe to do so.

How to use ciprofloxacin ear drops

For the ear drops to be fully effective it is important that you use them properly.

• Before you start, wash your hands with antibacterial soap and warm water.

• Warm the ciprofloxacin ear drops by holding the container in your hand for a minute or so. This is important, as putting cold drops in your ear could give you a headache or make you feel dizzy.

• Remove the lid from the container by twisting it off; discard the lid.

• Position yourself on your side with your infected ear uppermost.

• Gently place all of the container of ciprofloxacin ear drop solution into the ear. Maintain your position for a few minutes.

• Discard the empty container.

• If the infection is present in both ears, repeat the above steps for the other ear.

You must use ciprofloxacin ear drops for the full duration of treatment as instructed by your doctor, even if you see an improvement after just a few doses. If you stop using the drug too early, the infection may return.

Do not miss any of your scheduled doses.

Note that the dose of ciprofloxacin ear drops prescribed to you may be different from that given to other patients. You should use the medicine as instructed by your doctor or follow the directions on the dispensary label. If you have been given a different dose, do not change it unless your treating physician instructs you otherwise.

The dose and frequency of use of the medication that you will be told to take will depend on a number of factors, including the severity of the medical condition for which you are being treated.

Ciprofloxacin ear drops dosages for ear infections:

• Adults and children over one year old: administer the contents of one container of ciprofloxacin ear drops in the infected ear twice daily for at least one week.

• Children under one year old: your doctor will tell you what dose rate to use.

If you forget a dose of ciprofloxacin ear drops, try to administer it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your scheduled dose, omit the one you have missed and revert to your usual timetable. Do not use double the dose.

Major drug interactions

Some types of medication should never be used together. However, your doctor may decide in some cases that two or more drugs can be used in combination, despite the risk of an interaction occurring. In such cases, the dose, frequency of use, or duration of the course of treatment of one of these drugs may be changed by your treating physician.

Using ciprofloxacin ear drops with any of the following drugs is not recommended. Before you begin using this medication, it is extremely important that you tell your doctor if you are already using any of the following drugs:

• Ziprasidone
• Tizanidine
• Thioridazine
• Terfenadine
• Sparfloxacin
• Saquinavir
• Piperaquine
• Pimozide
• Mesoridazine
• Flibanserin
• Dronedarone
• Cisapride
• Bepridil
• Amisulpride
• Amifampridine
• Agomelatine

The following drugs should not usually be used with ciprofloxacin. However, their use may be necessary in some patients. Your doctor might adjust the frequency or dosages of either of your prescriptions.

• Zuclopenthixol
• Warfarin
• Voriconazole
• Vinflunine
• Vildagliptin
• Vemurafenib
• Vardenafil
• Vandetanib
• Triptorelin
• Trimipramine
• Trifluoperazine
• Trazodone
• Toremifene
• Tolbutamide
• Tolazamide
• Theophylline
• Tetrabenazine
• Telithromycin
• Telavancin
• Tedisamil
• Tasimelteon
• Tacrolimus
• Sunitinib
• Sulpiride
• Sotalol
• Sorafenib
• Solifenacin
• Sodium Phosphate, Monobasic
• Sodium Phosphate, Dibasic
• Sodium Phosphate
• Sitagliptin
• Simvastatin
• Simeprevir
• Sevoflurane
• Sematilide
• Saxagliptin
• Salmeterol
• Rosiglitazone
• Repaglinide
• Rasagiline
• Ranolazine
• Quinine
• Quinidine
• Quetiapine
• Protriptyline
• Propafenone
• Promethazine
• Prochlorperazine
• Procainamide
• Pramlintide
• Posaconazole
• Pomalidomide
• Pitolisant
• Pirfenidone
• Pioglitazone
• Pimavanserin
• Perflutren Lipid Microsphere
• Pazopanib
• Pasireotide
• Panobinostat
• Paliperidone
• Ondansetron
• Olaparib
• Ofloxacin
• Octreotide
• Nortriptyline
• Norfloxacin
• Nilotinib
• Nateglinide
• Naloxegol
• Nafarelin
• Moxifloxacin
• Moricizine
• Miglitol
• Mifepristone
• Metronidazole
• Methadone
• Metformin
• Mefloquine
• Lurasidone
• Lumefantrine
• Lopinavir
• Liraglutide
• Linagliptin
• Levofloxacin
• Leuprolide
• Lapatinib
• Ketoconazole
• Insulin Lispro, Recombinant
• Insulin Glulisine
• Insulin Glargine, Recombinant
• Insulin Detemir
• Insulin Degludec
• Insulin Bovine
• Insulin Aspart, Recombinant
• Insulin
• Imipramine
• Iloperidone
• Ifosfamide
• Ibutilide
• Hydroxyzine
• Hydroxychloroquine
• Histrelin
• Haloperidol
• Halofantrine
• Granisetron
• Goserelin
• Gonadorelin
• Glyburide
• Gliquidone
• Glipizide
• Glimepiride
• Gliclazide
• Gemifloxacin
• Gatifloxacin
• Fluoxetine
• Fluconazole
• Flecainide
• Fingolimod
• Fentanyl
• Exenatide
• Escitalopram
• Erythromycin
• Erlotinib
• Eltrombopag
• Eliglustat
• Efavirenz
• Droperidol
• Doxorubicin Hydrochloride Liposome
• Doxorubicin
• Donepezil
• Domperidone
• Dolasetron
• Dofetilide
• Disopyramide
• Deslorelin
• Desipramine
• Delamanid
• Degarelix
• Dasatinib
• Dapagliflozin
• Dabrafenib
• Cyclobenzaprine
• Crizotinib
• Clozapine
• Clomipramine
• Clarithromycin
• Citalopram
• Cilostazol
• Cholera Vaccine, Live
• Chlorpropamide
• Chlorpromazine
• Canagliflozin
• Buserelin
• Bretylium
• Bosutinib
• Benfluorex
• Bendamustine
• Azithromycin
• Azimilide
• Astemizole
• Asenapine
• Artemether
• Arsenic Trioxide
• Aripiprazole
• Apomorphine
• Anagrelide
• Amoxapine
• Amitriptyline
• Amiodarone
• Alosetron
• Alogliptin
• Alfuzosin
• Acetohexamide
• Acecainide
• Acarbose

If you are already taking any of the following medications, using ciprofloxacin ear drops might increase the risk of some side effects, although using both drugs may be the most suitable treatment for you. If both of these drugs are prescribed for you, your doctor might adjust the frequency or dosages of either of your prescriptions.

• Zolpidem
• Triamcinolone
• Sildenafil
• Ropivacaine
• Ropinirole
• Rifapentine
• Probenecid
• Prednisone
• Prednisolone
• Phenytoin
• Olanzapine
• Mycophenolate Mofetil
• Methylprednisolone
• Lanthanum Carbonate
• Itraconazole
• Hydrocortisone
• Fosphenytoin
• Fluocortolone
• Fludrocortisone
• Dutasteride
• Diclofenac
• Dexamethasone
• Deflazacort
• Cyclosporine
• Cosyntropin
• Cortisone
• Corticotropin
• Chloroquine
• Budesonide
• Betamethasone
• Aceclofenac


Using some medicines while eating or consuming certain foodstuffs can cause interactions to take place. Similarly, drinking alcohol or using tobacco with some drugs can precipitate interactions or increase the side effects that you may experience.

You should try to avoid drinking beverages that contain caffeine, such as tea, coffee, cocoa, and cola while you are using ciprofloxacin ear drops. Eating chocolate or chocolate flavored products should also be avoided, as they could contain cocoa.

Appraise your doctor of any unusual reactions or allergies that you have experienced while using ciprofloxacin or with any other drugs. Remember to mention any over the counter medicines, vitamin supplements and herbal remedies. You must also tell your doctor if you are allergic to any forms of food preservatives, dyes, animal by-products, or particular food groups.

There is no evidence to suggest that using ciprofloxacin ear drops present a risk to a fetus, so the drug is safe to use during pregnancy. Similarly, there are no studies to show that ciprofloxacin passes into breast milk, so breastfeeding should not present any risk to nursing infants.

If you do not think that you or your child have not seen any improvement in your symptoms after using ciprofloxacin ear drops for seven days, or if you feel that your condition has actually become worse, you should seek further medical advice.

If you begin to develop a skin rash or show any other signs of an allergic reaction when you start using ciprofloxacin ear drops, stop using them right away and call your doctor for more advice.


You should keep your prescription of ciprofloxacin ear drops in the sealed, airtight containers that they are supplied in. It is not necessary to place the drops in the fridge or freezer; remember that you must warm the drug to body temperature before use anyway.

Keep your prescription of ciprofloxacin ear drops out of direct sunlight and well away from sources of extreme heat. Do not keep your ear drops in your car where there is a risk of the drug being exposed to extremes of heat and cold.

Be sure to place your supply of ciprofloxacin ear drops well out of the reach of small children and pets. If a pet does consume ciprofloxacin ear drops, call your emergency vet for immediate advice.

Never keep any ciprofloxacin ear drops after you have completed your course of treatment; out of date medication loses its efficacy and may even be unsafe to use. If you discover that your supply of ear drops is past its use-by date, ask your doctor for a fresh prescription and dispose of the medication responsibly.

To dispose of unwanted medication, wrap it in a bag and return it to your pharmacist or doctor. Never pour ciprofloxacin ear drops down the drain or toilet or throw the package out with your garbage, where it could pose a danger to children or pets.


Ciprofloxacin ear drops are a highly effective antibiotic that are used to treat otitis externa, an infection of the inner and outer ear. To achieve the best results, you must complete your prescribed course of treatment.

Although ciprofloxacin can be used safely in children over the age of one year and during pregnancy, there are a large number of medications that it should not be used in conjunction with. For this reason, you must remember to mention to your treating physician any drugs that you are already taking, before commencing a course of treatment with ciprofloxacin ear drops.

In order to enjoy the quick relief that ciprofloxacin ear drops can bring to those suffering from swimmer’s ear, it is important that patients attend regular follow-up appointments with their doctor. These appointments ensure that your condition is clearing up as expected and give you the chance to ask your doctor about any side effects that you may have noticed, which may be caused by the new drug. In addition, regular check-ups will help to identify any other medical conditions that could be the root cause of the infection for which you are receiving treatment.