All iLive content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies. Note that the numbers in parentheses ([1], [2], etc.) are clickable links to these studies.

If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please select it and press Ctrl + Enter.

Compresses in the ear for otitis: alcohol, vodka, warming, with dimexidum

Medical expert of the article

Otorhinolaryngologist, surgeon
, medical expert
Last reviewed: 24.12.2018

Probably one of the most painful pains known to a person is a pain in the ears. A frequent cause of these pains is the inflammatory process inside the hearing organ, which is confirmed by the diagnosis of "otitis." Since the inflammation can nest in different areas of the ear, it is fairer to talk about a group of inflammatory ear pathologies united by a common name and some treatment methods, such as compress in otitis, which is considered an alternative therapy, although its effectiveness is not disputed even by experienced doctors.

The use of compress for otitis

Since otitis is primarily an inflammatory pathology, and as we know, inflammation of the heat does not welcome, many have a legitimate question: is it possible to do compresses at all? Let's try to understand this issue together.

First, a fairly common cause of otitis are catarrhal inflammatory diseases, the treatment of which includes warming procedures. In the absence of a bacterial pathogen, compress in otitis media can become the main treatment procedure. And if it is used at an early stage of the disease, it is quite possible to resort to medical treatment and do not have to.

Secondly, even if the bacterial infection becomes a cause of otitis, the compress in combination with other methods of treatment (and primarily antibiotic therapy) at the initial stage of the disease will help reduce pain caused by inflammation of the tissues, improve metabolic processes, disinfect and create unsuitable conditions for reproduction of microbes.

The action of the compress depends on its type. So moist compresses on the basis of alcohol or vodka act as a warming element, improving blood circulation and metabolic processes, and as an effective antiseptic, dry compress quickly relieves pain and other unpleasant symptoms of otitis.

Compresses based on herbal decoctions have a short-term warming effect, but they have anti-inflammatory and even antibacterial properties, depending on the raw materials used. But the oil compresses have a long and gentle warming effect, and therefore they are recommended as part of the complex therapy of otitis in small children.

But for the time being we talked about superficial inflammation caused by hypothermia, a viral infection or even a small number of bacteria. Another thing, if it is a purulent inflammation, indicating the multiplication of infection, when warming procedures are not beneficial, but can easily cause various complications in the form of the spread of the inflammatory process inside the body. With this, one should be especially careful, because our hearing organs are located on the head, which means that the process will be spread precisely to this area in which the brain is located.

Many will say that if otitis can not be treated, the same complications may occur. They are right, but this is not at all an occasion to apply the methods of treatment dangerous in this situation. In any case, in order not to harm your health, before you start to practice compress in otitis, it is worth consulting with the attending physician, in this case with the otolaryngologist.

Indications for the procedure

Yes, compress in otitis is considered a full-fledged medical procedure, largely facilitating the patient's condition. First of all, such treatment reduces pain. But in fact the earache can arise and at other diseases when therapy by compresses is not applied. So before you start using an effective alternative, you need to consult a doctor who will put an accurate diagnosis and tell you which types of compresses will be useful for the existing pathology.

Depending on the location of the inflammation, the otitis may be external, middle or internal. With external otitis, the focus of inflammation with exudation or without exudate is located in the external auditory canal, and the compress can have a direct impact on the lesion as a result of the close effect of the substance used in the procedure with it. And although it is not customary to apply compress on osteitis directly to inflamed tissues, therapeutic solutions, like in case of angina, can easily penetrate the inner surface of the ear, having a healing effect.

With the average otitis media  (inflammation of the middle ear), which in most cases develops as a complication of the widespread inflammatory diseases of the ENT organs (laryngitis, pharyngitis, sinusitis, bronchitis, etc.), the compress will act indirectly, because the medicine can not penetrate deep into the eardrum , where there is a small cavity, called the middle ear. Nevertheless, the warming action of the compress and the disinfection of the outer tissues of the hearing organ in the case of alcohol composition will still have an effective therapeutic effect.

Internal otitis develops in the event that the infectious agent enters the Eustachian tube from the inside through the bloodstream and causes inflammation inside the ear, which can lead to occlusion and ear loss. Most often, this pathology is associated with improper treatment of other types of otitis and inflammatory diseases in the head region. In this case, often purulent otitis develops, the treatment of which excludes warming procedures, because a compress with purulent otitis  can provoke the multiplication of bacterial infection and the spread of the inflammatory process to the brain area.

How to understand that we are dealing with acute otitis, in the treatment of which various types of compresses are used. The main symptom of otitis of any localization is sudden severe pain in the auditory canal, which is accompanied by deterioration of hearing, irritability, sleep disturbances.

With external otitis pain and itching are felt at the entrance to the ear aperture. The average otitis differs not only in severe pain, but also in fever, as well as in the worsening of the general condition of the patient. In general, the symptoms may be similar to ARVI, sore throat, sinusitis, but sharp pain in the ear suggests that the inflammatory process spread to the middle ear area.

With a purulent otitis pain can be somewhat reduced, but a purulent exudate starts to appear from the ear, which says that the bacteria continue to multiply. After all, pus is the result of their vital activity, and the more the volume of "result", the more severe the disease.

Stagnant phenomena in the middle ear area, when pus can not penetrate the tympanic membrane and presses on it, can cause a significant decrease in hearing and permanent headaches. When purulent contents from the ear start to be actively allocated, this indicates that the disease has passed to a second, very dangerous stage. The pus melted the eardrum and emerged from the ear aperture.

These alarming symptoms indicate that you need to urgently seek help from a doctor, and not try to treat the disease yourself, exacerbating the situation and causing various complications. In addition, pus does not always break out, and if it expires inward, complications can be dangerous, even for the patient's life, not to mention the possible loss of hearing.

The use of compresses with purulent otitis can very well provoke a capsule break with pus in both directions, and such treatment will have the most unfortunate consequences.

trusted-source[1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7]


Compress with otitis is an important part of the treatment process. So, the procedure should be treated with all responsibility, as well as to taking medications. You can not proceed to the procedure without knowing how to do it correctly.

Applying a compress to the throat with angina hardly causes serious problems for anyone, but after all, the ear has a completely different structure, so without knowing the technique of applying compress on the ear can not do. Information on how to properly make a compress on the ear in otitis can be obtained from your doctor. But some information can be obtained from the article submitted to your review.

First you need to make sure that there is no high temperature. Do it better with a thermometer, and not putting your palm to your forehead. If the temperature is significantly higher than the low-grade values, warming the compress can cause an even higher temperature rise, which can be quite dangerous, because at a high temperature the blood becomes thicker and its flow slows down, which leads to oxygen starvation of the tissues, because it is the blood that is responsible for delivering to them this important element of the periodic table.

After making sure that there is no temperature, we begin to prepare a sick ear for the procedure. In principle, the preparation does not present any complexity, though it can cause additional painful sensations. It is necessary with the help of an ear stick and an antiseptic solution (you can use herbal decoctions) to gently and gently clean the ear canal from dirt and ear extracts so that the medicine in the compress has free access to the tissues affected by inflammation.

After our sick ear has been thoroughly cleaned, we give him a break, and in the meantime we start preparing the necessary materials for the procedure (gauze cut, folded several times, with a hole corresponding to the size of the ear, bandage, cotton, a piece of polyethylene) and preparation of the selected medicinal solution used in compresses. As therapeutic solutions can act: oily composition, alcohol solutions, herbal decoctions, liquid medications.

trusted-source[8], [9], [10], [11]

Who to contact?

Technique of the compresses for otitis

Treatment with compresses for ear diseases is a fairly common practice. However, the tactics of treatment depending on the pathology may differ. With otitis, the compress performs mainly an auxiliary function, however, it is not worth it to exclude the beneficial effect of such a procedure, which removes the strongest pain sensations and improves metabolic processes.

Two types of compresses can be used to treat otitis media. Dry compress is a procedure designed to protect the ear from getting into the infection and absorbing abundant secretion from the ear, which can occur with both external and medium otitis media. For such a compress, use a gauze or bandage, which after folding in 4-6 times forms a square with an edge of 10 cm (and / or a piece of cotton of approximately the same size about 2 cm thick) and a natural cloth to fix the bandage on the head. Since the compress is dry and can not stain the tissue, you can fix it on your head even with a simple knitted cap.

Dry compress is best placed on top of the auricle, closing the entrance to the ear. However, it is not necessary to tighten it tightly.

A wet compress on the ear, for the preparation of which antiseptic liquids, oils, herbs of herbs are used, can pursue two purposes: warming or cooling the tissues of the hearing organ. Cooling of damaged tissues is required for injuries and bruises, as well as for ear bleeding. In such situations, the fabric for compresses is moistened with cold water and applied to the ear before the composition is heated.

Heating compresses can be further divided into 2 subspecies: warm (temperature of composition up to 40 degrees) and hot (with a temperature of about 50 degrees), but with otitis only warm procedures are used, and hot ones are shown with migraine-like pains and spasms with irradiation in the ears.

Heating compresses are used to relieve pain and reduce the intensity of the inflammatory process. They are placed on the head area behind the auricle, and not on top of it. In order to make it more convenient to do this, in a folded in a few layers gauze cut with an edge of 10 cm, make a small cut through the length of about 5 cm so that the auricle can freely pass into it, and the tissue itself can fit snugly to the scalp.

Before applying a compress on the ear, gauze is moistened with a prepared liquid composition of room temperature or slightly warmed to body temperature. After the gauze has been absorbed by the liquid, it needs to be squeezed slightly, so that after applying the compress, the composition does not spread over the skin.

Next, gauze is spread and applied to the ear, pressing it to the head and gently pulling the auricle through the incision outwards. In the same way on the gauze compress paper or polyethylene film is superimposed, the size of which should coincide with the gauze cut or be slightly larger than it. In the center of the film and paper, a cut is made beforehand of the same length as on the cheesecloth, the ear cone is again inserted into it.

The film in the compress prevents the active evaporation of the medicinal composition and the drying of the tissue, plus it does not allow the next layer of compress to get wet. However, you can not close the entrance to the ear with film. The increased humidity on the background of heat will only promote the reproduction of bacteria.

The entrance to the auditory tube and the surface of the compress are covered with a fairly thick layer of cotton wool (about 2-3 cm), which will help maintain heat for the duration of the treatment.

On top, our construction should be fixed with a cloth made from natural materials. It can be again a gauze cut, cotton or woolen fabric. A woolen grandmother's scarf or scarf is very convenient and effective in this regard. Wool will help to strengthen and prolong the warming effect.

The time for which the warming compress is put depends on the composition used and the ways of warming the ear. It is customary to put alcohol and vodka compresses for about 4 hours, however, if the medicinal composition has cooled earlier (in 2-3 hours), it is better to remove it, since a cold moist tissue will not be useful for otitis, but it can provoke complications. The same can be said about compresses with other liquids: broths of herbs, liquid medicinal compounds.

Oil compresses can be safely put on all night, because they act more gently, and the heat can save even 8 or more hours.

Kinds of medical compositions for a compress at otitis

Let's begin a closer acquaintance with compresses used for inflammation of the ear tissues, with alcohol-containing compounds. Such compounds include diluted medical alcohol and vodka.

Many people ask, what is the difference between alcohol and vodka compresses? By their action and effective time, these two compresses do not differ. Alcohol in the composition of  alcohol compress, used in otitis without purulent secretion, is considered an excellent antiseptic, which means it thoroughly disinfects the skin on which it is applied. Plus, this substance has volatility. Evaporation from the skin, it is in the form of vapors can partially penetrate the inside of the ear, providing a useful antimicrobial effect.

The irritating effect of alcohol can increase blood circulation in the affected area, which improves the nutrition of tissues and metabolism in them, stimulates the defenses of the body to fight the disease. However, pure alcohol can cause severe irritation and even burn the tender skin around the ear, so alcohol for the compress in otitis in adults and children must be diluted with water. Usually, water and alcohol are mixed in a 1: 1 ratio, however, for very sensitive skin, one part of the alcohol is recommended to take 2 parts of water.

Vodka compress  in otitis has the same effect, but it is still more popular. The reason for this is the availability of the medicinal composition. What is a sin to conceal, many in a secret corner have a bottle with a 40-degree liquid in case of illness, in which it is necessary to disinfect the wound, put a compress or even take the medicine inside (for example, with severe hypothermia to prevent inflammation). But 96% of medical alcohol can not be found in every home.

Such inexpensive compounds as salicylic acid, boric alcohol and the like, used to disinfect the skin before injecting, are not always suitable for long-term exposure, because they contain specific additives, and the effective dose for breeding such drugs is not so easy to find. With vodka, everything is extremely simple, especially if it is free of foreign impurities. It is not necessary to raise the standard vodka composition with water, since it can not provoke a burn. Another thing, if the motion goes home moonshine, the fortress of which sometimes reaches 70 degrees. This liquid is still better to be diluted with water, although the water will need to be taken less than alcohol.

The composition for the alcohol compress is taken at room temperature. The alcohol-containing liquid itself will in any case stimulate blood circulation, causing tissue warming. However, if the alcohol is cold, it can be diluted with warm water, so that the temperature of the liquid becomes comfortable. Cold vodka can be slightly heated in a water bath. Hot composition can not be used, therefore, if it is accidentally overheated, it will be necessary to cool it before use.

Decoctions of herbs as a compress in otitis are not as effective medicines as vodka formulations. It is advisable to use them only at the very beginning of the disease as a warming and anti-inflammatory component. They are also effective in the case when irritation develops on the skin around the ear after alcohol compresses. Such herbs as chamomile, calendula, string and some others have a pronounced calming and regenerating effect, which helps restore the normal condition of the skin, relieve pain and itching on it.

Herbal decoctions for compress in otitis use in a warm form. The temperature of the composition should be 37-40 degrees.

Of particular interest is such a safe and useful composition for compresses as camphor oil, it is not in vain that it is so often used in the treatment of small patients. Yes, camphor oil does not have disinfecting properties, like alcohol compounds, but it acts very delicately and for a long time, which makes it possible to apply such treatment without hindrance at night.

The purpose of the oil compress is the removal of strong pain, excruciating patients in otitis (especially in the evening and in the morning), so this treatment can be used only in conjunction with the main one.

The only drawback of the  compress with camphor oil, which is used with internal non-purulent otitis (confirmed by the attending physician, rather than own experience and sensations!), Is considered problematic removal of fatty oil composition from the scalp and hair caught under cheesecloth. In case of external pathology and inflammation of the middle ear, preference is given to instilling warm oil into the ear canal or inserting oil-impregnated tampons (4 hours or more).

Oil for compresses and tampons should always be used in a warm form. It is most convenient to warm it up in a water bath, controlling the temperature of the composition.

A small cotton swab with oil is laid directly into the ear canal, a layer of dry cotton wool is laid on top of it and a warm kerchief or scarf is tied over it. Compress is done on the same principle as alcohol or herbal. Wet the gauze with a cut for the ear, gauze on the skin, top cover with a film, remove the ear outward and heat the construction with cotton wool and a warm bandage.

Both tampons and compresses can be done at any time of the day. It is quite convenient to use oil compresses at night, because they help to fall asleep, relieve pain, and do not cause discomfort, as in the daytime. However, go to the sick ear, both with a compress, and without it doctors do not recommend.

Compress for otitis small child is not in vain recommended to do with camphor oil, because the skin of the baby is more tender and sensitive than in adults, and irritation with its alcohol can lead to the appearance of redness, wounds, pain, and hence, new moods and tears.

In addition, such a compress can be done when the child is asleep, and therefore will not try to remove it. Babies do not like such procedures, and become even more moody and irritable when they are sick. The oil compress lasts a long time, which means that the mother will not have to disturb the quiet sleep of the sick son or daughter to remove the cold compress. The oil will store heat (especially if the top of the compress is well insulated with a woolen cloth) until the baby wakes up.

Older children on the recommendation of a doctor can do and alcohol compresses. However, it will be necessary to take measures to protect the children's skin from irritation, greasing it with a fat baby cream or petroleum jelly. If the skin is very sensitive, alcohol is diluted 1: 2 with water or even refuses such experiments.

Let us dwell on one more composition, which can be called with full certainty medicinal, because it is based on the drug "Dimexide". Many people have heard about the properties of this cheap but effective medicine. Dimexide solution is attributed to anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and mild analgesic effect. In addition, this solution promotes the penetration of other medicines into deeply lying tissues of the body, and therefore, in combination with it, it is possible to inject antibiotics and anesthetics outwardly.

A major drawback of Dimexide is its rather high toxicity, therefore in pediatrics this medicine is used only in extreme cases and low doses. However, as a therapeutic compress for adults who are not suffering from thyroid disorders, high blood pressure or high blood glucose levels, the drug will work.

As a part of the compress, not pure "Dimexide" is used, but its aqueous solution. The medicine is diluted with water in a ratio of 1: 5. Exceeding the dose of dimexide can cause the appearance of toxic effects or severe irritation of the skin behind the ears.

"Dimexid" is a medicinal preparation that, like many other medicines, is rarely able to cause reactions of intolerance, therefore, before using the solution on the delicate skin behind the ears, it is necessary to make a test on the skin of the forearm or thigh from the inside. A test  compress with dimexidum, which is often practiced with otitis on the recommendation of a doctor, should be kept on the skin for at least 2 hours. If irritation, itching, rashes appear on the body, the drug should not be used.

Compress for children and adults do once a day, but the time of its impact is calculated based on the properties of the solutions used and the quality of the insulation.

Contraindications to the procedure

Treatment of otitis is not easy, and as the disease is accompanied by severe painful pain in the ears, ignore such an effective and relatively safe analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent like compresses in the ear is not worth it. But caution does not hurt in this case, because the compress in otitis, which is a medical procedure, of course, has certain contraindications.

About one of them we repeated more than once throughout the narrative. It is a question of purulent otitis (and no matter what it has: acute or chronic), when any compresses are contraindicated, not to mention warming, capable only of increasing the number of pathogenic microorganisms in the lesion, i.e. In the ear, where to remove them is not so easy. Such treatment can only aggravate the situation and require the introduction of strong antibacterial drugs in large doses, which is dangerous not only for bacteria, but also for humans.

In addition, the inflammatory process under the influence of heat can spread to nearby tissues, for example, the membrane and even the body of the brain, which will not only reduce hearing, but also the development of such dangerous pathologies as meningitis, encephalitis, brain abscess.

The second important contraindication is the patient's high body temperature. The thing is that any warming procedures can cause an increased increase in already high temperatures. And high temperature is dangerous in itself, ved it affects the aggregate state of blood, making it more viscous and disrupting normal blood flow.

Doctors do not recommend warming compresses, if there is a purulent-inflammatory process in the ear area (for example, furunculosis develops, purulent inflammation of the inner ear, imperceptible to the eye, mastoiditis is diagnosed, etc.). Ranches, sores and other skin lesions can also be irritated by the action of various formulations for compress. With nagging wounds and abrasions, you can use only herbal decoctions.

Using as a composition for compressing drugs, you need to take into account and contraindications to them. For example, "Dimexide" according to the instructions to the drug can not be used for compresses for arterial hypertension, diabetes, thyroid dysfunction. The same applies to analgesics, antibiotics and other medications used together with Dimexide.

trusted-source[12], [13], [14]

Consequences after the procedure

As in most cases, the correct approach to the procedure is to prevent unpleasant consequences and complications. To avoid them, you need to carefully study the technique of applying compresses, the scheme of preparation of medical formulations, contraindications to the procedure.

If you do not take into account contraindications to warming procedures, you can help not to cure the disease, but to transfer it to a more difficult stage. It should be understood that the inflammation of the inner ear (labyrinthitis) often becomes a complication after the procedure of warming compress, carried out with purulent otitis media of the middle ear. And the inflammatory process in the middle ear can be triggered not only by untreated respiratory pathologies, but also by incorrect treatment of external otitis media, which can also occur in a purulent form.

Particular care should be taken when treating children. A vodka or alcohol compress common in otitis can cause irritation of tender thin baby skin in the ears, which will bring additional suffering to the child. Plus, the inhalation of alcohol vapors does not have the best effect on the health of the baby. If irritation on the skin can still be prevented by covering it with a layer of protective cream or petroleum jelly, then the evaporation of alcohol can not be prevented in any way. The most safe treatment is otitis treatment in children with the help of decoctions of herbs and castor oil, used as therapeutic compositions for compress.

Caution should also be observed for people with sensitive skin and those with a tendency to allergies. Such patients are recommended to perform tests with any medical fluids, as even herbs can cause allergy, if they are an allergen for a particular person, and sensitive skin is prone to irritation even with a minimum alcohol concentration in the solution.

An unpleasant consequence of oil compresses is a fatty film on the scalp and hair in the area of the patient's ear where the compress was standing. The oil itself will not cause harm, but its remains on the head can stain clothes and bed linens.

trusted-source[15], [16], [17], [18], [19], [20]

Care after the procedure

At the end of the warming compress, when it cools, a cotton-gauze bandage from the ear needs to be removed and the skin gently wiped with a tissue moistened with warm, clean water or herbal decoction. Do not wait until the skin cools down, dry it with a soft towel. If the room is cool, the ears after the thermal procedure can be covered with a kerchief or a cap, so that there is no contrast of temperatures. In a warm room, this is not necessary.

After you have removed the compress from your ear, you need to carefully examine the skin beneath it. If irritation on the skin can not be avoided, you need after the compress is necessary to wipe the skin and make warm lotions soothing herbal decoction, lubricate the skin with a baby cream that helps with irritations, or wound healing agent. When the allergic nature of various phenomena on the skin shows the use of antihistamines.

After an oil compress, it is not easy to wash greasy film off your head with even warm water. In this case, you can use children's or household soap that does not irritate the skin, but with fat not to the skin and hair can handle quite adequately. Then the place of the compress is actively impregnated with a napkin. By the way, paper napkins can remove excess fat and by themselves, but the skin in this case it is not necessary to wet.

Doctors recommend the procedure once a day. In some cases, adult compresses can be prescribed and twice a day. However, if the patient began to notice irritation on the skin after moist compresses, then preference should be given to their dry relatives, which without consequences can be kept on the ear all day or night.

Otitis is a rather dangerous and serious disease that needs to be treated in a hospital or at home. Walks in this pathology are not always shown and not at any time of the year. Even in fairly warm weather after applying warming compresses from walks in the street, you have to beware for several hours. This will help to avoid exacerbation of the disease and its transition to heavier forms.

Compress with otitis is an effective auxiliary therapeutic procedure, which is not a panacea for ear illnesses, but only helps in the fight against their symptoms. If, in spite of everything, the disease progresses and takes a purulent form, you should immediately go to the doctor for a revision of the treatment regimen, and refuse to compress at all. Purulent otitis requires special attention and completely different treatment, and only a doctor in this case can help to avoid dangerous consequences of the disease.

trusted-source[21], [22], [23], [24]

It is important to know!

Otitis externa is an inflammation that is characterized by damage to the external auditory canal, including the tympanic membrane, or the auricle.

Read more..

The iLive portal does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
The information published on the portal is for reference only and should not be used without consulting a specialist.
Carefully read the rules and policies of the site. You can also contact us!

Copyright © 2011 - 2019 iLive. All rights reserved.