Dozens of different ear drops are available commercially today, ranging from ear-cleaning solutions to anesthetics to steroids to antibiotics. According to Medscape, antibiotic ear drops are an effective treatment for many outer ear infections. (Most inner ear infections require treatment by oral or systemic antibiotics.) More than a dozen antibiotic ear drops are available by prescription.
Common Antibiotic Ear Drops
In many cases, your doctor will prescribe antibiotic ear drops for your outer ear infection. Domeboro Otic, Floxin and Vosol are among the more commonly prescribed antibiotic ear drops in the U.S. Floxin is perhaps the most popular brand of antibiotic ear drops as it is effective against a broader spectrum of bacteria.
Antibiotic Plus Steroid Ear Drops
Many physicians believe that ear drops that combine a broad-spectrum antibiotic and a topical steroid (to reduce inflammation and speed up healing) are the best treatment for most outer ear infections. There are many ear drops in this category--Ciprodex, Cipro HC, Cortane-B, Cortisporin, Betnesol-N and Predsol-N, to name a few.
Steroid Ear Drops
In cases where antibiotics are contraindicated, your doctor might choose to prescribe standard steroid ear drops. DermOtic Oil Ear Drops, Betnesol and Predsol are three commonly prescribed ear drops containing topical steroids as their only active ingredient.
Aluminum Acetate Ear Drops (Desiccating Ear Drops)
Aluminum acetate ear drops act as a desiccating agent to dry out the ear after the ear drops evaporate (to promote healing and prevent further infections). Some aluminum acetate ear drops include acetic acid to create an astringent effect. Audicort and Cerumol are two commonly prescribed aluminum acetate ear drops.
Antfungal Ear Drops
Some outer ear infections are caused by fungi rather than bacteria and require antifungal treatment. Mycostatin (generically nystatin) and Canesten (generically clotrimazole) are commonly prescribed antifungal ear drops. There are also several combination antibacterial and antifungal ear drops available commercially.