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Betamethasone ear drops

Betnesol, Vistamethasone

Betamethasone ear drops are prescribed to treat inflammation in the ear canal.

Use 2-3 drops every three hours to begin with, then reduce the frequency as your ear improves.

If your symptoms have not improved after seven days, make another appointment to see your doctor.

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About betamethasone ear drops

Type of medicine

Anti-inflammatory ear drops

Used for

Inflammation in the outer parts of the ear (otitis externa)

Also called

Betamethasone sodium phosphate

Brands include: Betnesol®; Vistamethasone®

There is also a combination brand called Betnesol-N® which contains betamethasone with an anti-infective called neomycin

Available as

Ear drops

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. Betamethasone ear drops are used to relieve this type of inflammation, along with any associated itching and pain.

Sometimes the inflamed skin becomes infected. A brand of betamethasone called Betnesol-N® is used if the skin in the ear canal is infected as well as inflamed. This brand contains an antibacterial ingredient called neomycin.

Before using betamethasone ear drops

To make sure this is the right treatment for you, before you start using betamethasone ear drops, it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

  • If you have a hole in your eardrum (a perforated eardrum).

  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.

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How to use betamethasone ear drops

  • Before you use the drops, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from the pack. It will give you more information about betamethasone and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you could experience.

  • Use the ear drops exactly as your doctor tells you to. Unless you have been told otherwise, put 2-3 drops into the affected ear every three hours to begin with, and then reduce the number of times you use the drops as your ear improves. You may need to use the drops for about 7-10 days. If you are using drops containing an antibacterial (Betnesol-N®), it is important that you do not use the drops for longer than a week unless your doctor has specifically told you to do so.

  1. Wash your hands first. Clean your ear gently with warm water and then pat it dry.

  2. Remove the cap from the bottle.

  3. Lie down, or tilt your head to the side, so that the affected ear is facing upwards.

  4. Gently pull your earlobe downwards to straighten the ear canal.

  5. Hold the bottle upside down near to your ear and apply enough pressure to release two or three drops into your ear.

  6. Keep your ear facing upwards for a few minutes to allow the solution to come into contact with the affected area.

  7. Repeat the process in your other ear if you have been asked to use the drops in both ears.

  8. Replace the cap on the bottle.

Getting the most from your treatment

  • If you feel there is no improvement in your symptoms after you have used the drops for a week, stop using them and make another appointment to see your doctor.

  • Otitis externa can be painful. You can take simple painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to help relieve the pain.

  • To help stop further bouts of inflammation, 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. 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.

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Can betamethasone ear drops cause problems?

You may get a slight feeling of irritation or burning. This is usually mild and soon passes. If you get a skin rash or if you notice any other symptoms which you think may be due to the drops, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

How to store betamethasone ear drops

  • 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.

Important information about all medicines

Important information about all medicines

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.

Report side effects to a medicine or vaccine

If you experience side effects, you can report them online through the Yellow Card website.

Further reading and references

Article history

The information on this page is written and peer reviewed by qualified clinicians.

  • Next review due: 11 Sept 2025
  • 12 Sept 2022 | Latest version

    Last updated by

    Michael Stewart, MRPharmS

    Peer reviewed by

    Sid Dajani
  • 10 May 2013 | Originally published

    Authored by:

    Helen Allen
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