More and more parents, myself included, are turning towards holistic remedies to treat their kids. When my kids get a cold, I put them on a regimen of honey and turmeric milk, which seems to help quite a bit. One remedy I've been hearing about is the use of essential oils to treat a variety of ailments. I've often wondered about their safety and effectiveness, especially for children like my daughter, who are susceptible to ear infections. Can essential oils help with ear infections? There are some conflicting opinions.
In an interview with Romper, Dr. Betsy Marks, an internist and pediatrician practicing in Albany, New York, explains that essential oils should never be used topically to treat ear infections in either children or adults, because they have the potential to cause serious skin reactions. These reactions could result in a ruptured ear drum, hearing loss, or even more significant medical problems.
If you don't want to use traditional medicines to treat your child, Marks says that there is a solution. "If parents want to avoid antibiotics for ear infections, the good news is that most ear infections, up to 80 percent in fact, are viral and will resolve on their own without an antibiotic." She says that parents can use oral medicines for pain as needed, and the infection should resolve over two to four days. "If the pain isn’t resolving over that time, or if it is worsening, that’s the time to get in to see a doctor," suggests Marks.
There are some who disagree. Dr. Elisa Song, a holistic pediatrician and founder of Healthy Kids Happy Kids, told Fox News that studies have shown that garlic oil, an anti-inflammatory that eases pain, can help fight a viral or bacterial ear infection. She suggested putting a drop of store-bought garlic oil (they even come in ear drops), into your child's ears three to four times a day.
If you decide to use essential oils, remember that safety is key. According to pediatrician Dr. Chad Hayes, as long as they aren't replacing medical treatment from your doctor, essential oils used in minimal amounts on the skin (not ingested) may be safe. If your child ingests them or has any unusual skin reactions, you should head to the emergency room or call poison control immediately.
The smartest thing to do when your child is sick is to call their doctor. It's better to get a doctor's evaluation, so you can rule out any underlying complications or serious illness. And if it is just a run-of-the-mill cold or ear infection, talk to your pediatrician first about whether or not it's safe to use any kind of home remedy.