Tea Tree Oil For Ear Infection

An earache will occur at one time or another in many people, both children and adults. People tend to use many approaches to treat the infection, but the most commonly used is tea tree oil for ear infections.

Background information on ear infections

Ear infections can be extremely painful, and they are a big concern for parents especially when they happen to young children. Not only can they cause significant levels of discomfort in the patient, but they can also pose problems in matters of treatment.

Ear infections can be acute or chronic. Acute infections happen for a short time but are very painful. Chronic infections refer to those that take longer to clear up, and when they do, it is only a short while before they recur. If this happens over a long time, the infection can cause permanent damage to the inner and middle ear.

Tea tree oil for ear infections

Many people have tried using essential oils for ear infections because most of them are super concentrated so directly target the bacteria that cause ear infections. Tea Tree Oil is among the essential oils that are in use today. The choice of essential oil depends on its composition based on the tree it is drawn from, and the method of harvesting.

The tea tree oil contains medicinal properties which have been found to be useful in treating ear infections. A 2006 review showed that tea tree oil contains a lot of terpinen-4-ol, a compound that works by killing bacteria as soon as it is exposed to the chemical.

Causes of ear infections:

Ear infections occur more often in children when the Eustachian tube becomes blocked or swollen. The tube runs from the ears to the back of the throat. Many factors can trigger the infection or blockage:

  • Water trapped in the ear canal provides an environment that is conducive to the growth of bacteria. This happens when there is wax build-up in the channel.
  • Upper respiratory infection which can be bacterial or viral.
  • The internal build-up of fluid in the ear as a result of internal injuries.
  • Sinus infections
  • Smoking
  • Excess mucus
  • Allergies
  • Changes in atmospheric pressure

Symptoms of ear infections:

The most common signs of an ear infection include:

  • A persistent feeling of pressure inside the ear
  • Mild pain in the ear
  • Discharge that looks like pus
  • Problem in hearing
  • In children, high fever and fussiness should be a symptom to observe.

Both ears may exhibit the symptoms depending on the level of infection. They may also persist in cases of chronic conditions. Pain gets worse if the infection is in both ears.

Diagnosing ear infections:

A healthcare provider will use an otoscope to examine the internal condition of the ears. The examination may unveil:

  • Air bubbles, redness, or pus in the middle ear
  • A collapsed or bulging eardrum
  • Perforation in the eardrum
  • Drainage of fluid from the middle ear.

For advanced infections, a sample of the fluid may be taken for a test to determine whether there are bacteria present and whether they might be resistant to antibiotics. The doctor may also order a scan of the head to determine the extent of the infection and if it has affected areas beyond the middle ear. A hearing test may also be done if the infection is chronic.

What is tea tree oil?

Do not let the name dupe you into thinking that the oil is in anyway related to tea. The oil comes from Melaleuca Alterniflora, an Australian tree. The oil is mostly colorless but sometimes has a pale yellow color when extracted from the leaves. Tea tree oil is available in varying concentrations and is prepared in different ways for highest effectiveness. Some of its medicinal properties include being an antiviral, antibacterial, and an antiseptic extract.

How tea tree oil treats ear infections:

The extract contains natural antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties that eliminate viruses or bacteria that cause infections in the ear. It also comprises an antiseptic agent that treats infections and helps wounds to cure fast. The anti-inflammatory property helps in reducing inflammation, pain, and irritation in the ear. The oil is useful in getting rid of impurities, dirt, and excess fluids that block the ear and cause infections.

Administration of tea tree oil for ear infections:

Avoid using tea tree oil directly. It should always be used in its diluted form before application. One method of using it is to pour five drops in a bowl of hot water and have the patient inhale the steam while covering the head with a towel. Alternatively, five drops of the oil can be added to 1 tablespoon of warm water, and the mixture gently rubbed over and around the ear. The procedure should be repeated until there is relief from pain and discomfort.


  • Before using tea tree oil to treat chronic ear infections, consult with your doctor especially if you have pain that lasts for more than 2 days.
  • Do a patch test before applying the oil as it might cause allergic reactions to some people
  • Tea tree oil should not be used for internal purposes lest it causes serious health problems
  • Dilute the oil with carrier oils like olive, coconut, castor, or almond oil before use for best results
  • Avoid using tea tree oil if you have a ruptured eardrum
  • Children and pregnant women should not use the oil without advice from the doctor
  • To prevent recurrence of ear infections, consume a lot of healthy foods and get enough rest during treatment of your ear infection.

If used correctly, tea tree oil can be effective in treating ear infections principally by killing bacteria and fungus. However, it should be used sparingly to avoid causing further damage to the ears. Note that if tea tree treatment fails, surgical removal to drain out the liquid might be necessary.