Clotrimazole for ear infections (Canesten)

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Clotrimazole 1% solution is used to treat fungal infections in the ear.

Use 2-3 drops of solution, two or three times daily.

Continue to use the drops for at least 14 days after your symptoms have gone.
Type of medicineAn antifungal
Used forFungal infections in the ear in otitis externa
Also calledCanesten® Solution
Available asSolution for use with a dropper

Otitis externa is a term used for inflammation in the ear when it is confined to the ear canal and does not go further than the eardrum. If you get things like water, shampoo or soap in your ear then it can cause itching. If you then scratch or poke your ear, this can damage the skin in the ear canal and cause inflammation. Sometimes the inflamed skin becomes infected by germs such as bacteria or fungi. Clotrimazole solution is used to treat ear infections caused by fungi. It is available on prescription or you can buy it without a prescription at a pharmacy.

To make sure this is the right treatment for you, before you start using clotrimazole solution in your ear, make sure your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Although clotrimazole is not known to be harmful to babies, you should only use medicines on the recommendation of a doctor while you are expecting or breast-feeding a baby.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • If you are using any other drops or remedies in your ears.
  1. Wash your hands. Clean your ear gently with warm water and then pat it dry.
  2. Lie down, or tilt your head a little, so that the affected ear is facing upwards.
  3. Gently pull your earlobe downwards to straighten the ear canal.
  4. Hold the dropper from the bottle near to your ear and apply enough pressure to release two or three drops of solution into your ear.
  5. Keep your ear facing upwards for a few minutes to allow the solution to come into contact with the affected area.
  6. Repeat the process in your other ear if both ears are affected.
  7. Replace the bottle dropper.
  • Before you use the drops, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from the pack. It will give you more information about clotrimazole and will provide you with a full list of any side-effects which you could experience.
  • Use the ear drops exactly as your doctor tells you to. Unless you have been told otherwise, put two to three drops into the affected ear(s) two or three times a day. You will need to use the drops until the infection has gone, and then for an extra 14 days after the infection has cleared up in order to prevent re-infection.
  • Symptoms such as itching and soreness should improve within a few days of using clotrimazole, although redness and skin scaling may take a little longer. If you feel there is no improvement in your symptoms after you have used the drops for about a week, make another appointment to see your doctor.
  • Otitis externa can be painful. You can take a simple painkiller such as paracetamol, or alternatively ibuprofen, to help relieve the pain.
  • To help stop further bouts of inflammation and infection, try not to let soap or shampoo get into your ear canal when you wash. You can do this when you have a shower by gently placing a piece of cotton wool coated in soft white paraffin (eg, Vaseline®) into your ear, but do not poke it in.
  • Otitis externa is more common in people who swim regularly compared to non-swimmers. If it is not possible for you to avoid swimming, try to protect your ears as much as possible.

Clotrimazole is unlikely to cause any serious side-effects. It can occasionally cause some irritation when it is used at first, and a few people experience mild allergic-type reactions (such as redness and itching). If you experience these or any other symptoms, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
  • In order to prevent the risk of infection, throw away any solution left in the bottle after you have finished your course of treatment. Do not keep it to use another time.

If you suspect that someone has swallowed some of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are using.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to use with your other medicines.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • Manufacturer's PIL, Canesten® Solution 1%; Bayer plc, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated May 2015.
  • British National Formulary; 71st Edition (March-September 2016) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Hannah Gronow
Document ID:
28596 (v2)
Last Checked:
Next Review:
The Information Standard - certified member

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