Ciprofloxacin ear drops for ear infections

This leaflet is about the use of ciprofloxacin ear drops to treat infections of the outer ear that are caused by bacteria (sometimes called bacterial otitis externa). They are not suitable for ear infections caused by viruses.

Information-Standard-logoThis leaflet has been written specifically about the use of this medicine in children. The information may differ from that provided by the manufacturer. Please read this leaflet carefully. Keep it somewhere safe so that you can read it again.

Name of drug

Ciprofloxacin ear drops
Brand names:
Cetraxal Otico®

Why is it important for my child to take this medicine?

Ciprofloxacin is an antibiotic. By giving it regularly in the way that your doctor has told you to, it should kill the bacteria causing the infection.

What are ciprofloxacin ear drops available as?

  • Ciprofloxacin 0.3% ear drops (supplied in a 10 mL dropper bottle)

When should I give are ciprofloxacin ear drops?

Ciprofloxacin ear drops are usually given two or three times each day. Your doctor will tell you how often to give the drops to your child.

  • Twice a day: give the drops once in the morning and once in the evening. Ideally, these times are 10–12 hours apart, for example some time between 7 and
    8 am, and between 7 and 8 pm.
  • Three times a day: give the drops once in the morning, once in the early afternoon (e.g. straight after school) and once in the evening. Space these times out as evenly as possible.

Give the ear drops at about the same times each day.

How much should I give?

Your doctor will work out the number of ear drops (the dose) that is right for your child. The dose will be shown on the medicine label.

It is important that you follow your doctor’s instructions about how much to give.

How should I give the ear drops?

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water.
  • Shake the bottle.
  • Your child needs to have their head tilted to one side. (They could rest their head on a pillow.)
  • Put the tip of the dropper just inside the ear hole. Try to avoid touching the nozzle on to the ear. Gently squeeze the drop(s) into the ear.
  • Your child should keep their head tilted to one side for a minute or so.
  • Wipe the nozzle with a clean tissue after each use.

Repeat the above steps for the other ear if necessary.

When should the medicine start working?

The ear drops will start to work straight away but it may take 2–3 days before your child starts to feel better. It is important that you give the whole course of ear drops that your doctor has prescribed, even when your child feels better. This is to make sure that all the bacteria are killed and the infection doesn’t come back.

What if my child is sick (vomits)?

You do not need to worry. The drops will still work if your child is sick. Do not give any extra drops.

What if I forget to give it?

  • If you usually give it twice a day: If you remember up to 4 hours after you should have given a dose, give your child the missed dose. For example, if you usually give a dose at about 7 am, you can give the missed dose at any time up to 11 am. If you remember after that time, do not give the missed dose. Just give the next dose as usual.
  • If you usually give it three times a day: Do not give the missed dose. Just give the next dose as usual.

What if I give too much?

It is unlikely that you will cause any harm if you give your child extra ear drops by mistake. If you are worried that you may have given your child too much, contact your doctor or local NHS services (111 in England and Scotland; 0845 4647 in Wales). Have the medicine or packaging with you if you telephone for advice.

Are there any possible side-effects?

We use medicines to make our children better, but sometimes they have other effects that we don’t want (side-effects).

Side-effects you must do something about

If your child is short of breath or is wheezing, or their face, lips or tongue start to swell, or they develop a rash, they may be allergic to ciprofloxacin. Take your child to hospital or call an ambulance straight away.

Other side-effects you need to know about

  • Your child may develop a rash or itching in the ear(s) while using the drops. This will stop when the course of treatment is finished. If it is a problem, contact your doctor for advice.

Can other medicines be given at the same time as ciprofloxacin ear drops?

  • You can give your child medicines that contain paracetamol or ibuprofen, unless your doctor has told you not to.
  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist before giving any other medicines to your child. This includes herbal or complementary medicines. However, most medicines can be given safely while using ciprofloxacin ear drops.

Is there anything else I need to know about ciprofloxacin ear drops?

  • Do not put cotton wool (or anything else) into the ears during the course of treatment.
  • Ciprofloxacin ear drops are imported because they are not available in the UK. This means that the information provided by the manufacturer is not in English.
  • Ciprofloxacin is widely available in the UK in other formulations, so we know that it is safe to use.
  • Once opened, ciprofloxacin ear drops should not be kept for longer than 4 weeks.

Important things to know about taking antibiotics

  • It is important that your child completes the course of antibiotic. This means that they must use the medicine for the number of days that the doctor has told you Your child will probably start to feel better soon after starting the antibiotic. However, it takes a few days for the antibiotic to kill all the bacteria. If you stop giving the antibiotic too soon, the bacteria that are left will start to multiply again, and may cause another infection. There is also a risk that these bacteria will be ‘resistant’ to the first antibiotic. This means that it might not work next time, and your child might need a stronger antibiotic.
  • Try to give the drops at about the same times each day, to help you remember, and to make sure that there is the right amount of medicine in your child’s body to kill the bacteria.
  • Only give these drops to your child for their current infection.
  • Never save medicine for future illnesses. Give old or unused antibiotics to your pharmacist to dispose of.
  • Antibiotics only kill bacteria; they do not kill viruses. This means that they do not work against colds, sore throats, flu or other infections that are caused by viruses. Your doctor will not prescribe antibiotics for these illnesses.

General advice about medicines

  • Try to give medicines at about the same times each day, to help you remember.
  • If you are not sure a medicine is working, contact your doctor but continue to give the medicine as usual in the meantime. Do not give extra doses, as you may do harm.
  • Only give this medicine to your child. Never give it to anyone else, even if their condition appears to be the same, as this could do harm.
  • If you think someone else may have taken the medicine by accident, contact your doctor for advice.

Where should I keep this medicine?

  • Keep the ear drops in a cupboard, away from heat and direct sunlight. The do not need to be kept in the fridge.
  • Make sure that children cannot see or reach the medicine.
  • Keep the medicine in the container it came in.

Who to contact for more information

Your doctor or pharmacist will be able to give you more information about ciprofloxacin ear drops and other treatments for ear infection.

You can also get useful information from:

Publication Date


Copyright Disclaimer

Version 1.4, June 2011 (October 2014). © NPPG, RCPCH and WellChild 2011, all rights reserved. Reviewed by: June 2013.

The primary source for the information in this leaflet is the British National Formulary for Children. For details on any other sources used for this leaflet, please contact us through our website,

We take great care to make sure that the information in this leaflet is correct and up-to-date. However, medicines can be used in different ways for different patients. It is important that you ask the advice of your doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure about something. This leaflet is about the use of these medicines in the UK, and may not apply to other countries. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), the Neonatal and Paediatric Pharmacists Group (NPPG), WellChild and the contributors and editors cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of information, omissions of information, or any actions that may be taken as a consequence of reading this leaflet.