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How to Use Onions for Earaches & Ear Infections

Onions for earaches? Yes. Hear me out!

Ear pain is miserable and having a child with an earache is on another level. I still remember the first time one of our kids had one. Our middle child woke up in terrible pain, completely inconsolable. I felt awful for her and was ready to try anything to soothe her pain.

Not long before this, I had an earache that ended badly (a neti pot incident, you don’t want to know). That option was out. I also knew that the usual suggestion of garlic oil (garlic steeped in olive oil) didn’t do a thing to relieve my pain. In an attempt not to mess with her more than necessary, I hopped online at 2 am to look for another solution, and that’s when I started to read about “onion juice.” It sounded a bit silly; how on earth do you even juice an onion?! Nevertheless, it seemed promising after reading close to a dozen sources and an assortment of personal experiences. I decided that this would be my plan of attack.

No amount of distraction helped while she waited for the onion juice. With her head resting on my lap, I placed a few drops in her ear, and within minutes her body calmed (she had been contracting her legs and fidgeting a lot because of the ear pain) and she was able to rest peacefully once again. In the morning, there were no signs of a sore ear, but I did follow up with a few more drops of onion juice for good measure.

How & Why It Works

My understanding is that onions contain chemicals with anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can quickly and effectively soothe and calm an infected ear. This allows the body to heal without the inflammation and pressure causing pain. 

I am still amazed by how quickly this works, and it has been my go-to earache remedy for over a decade. I’ve used it on my kids, myself, and even adult friends who have had the misfortune of waking up with an earache.

Here’s the step-by-step guide I use when we have earaches:

First, grab a fresh onion — You can use whatever type of onion you like. I have used red and yellow.

Option 1: Crank the heat on your oven (400-450 F), cut the onion in half, and place it inside to cook for at least 15 minutes. You want to get it to start softening.

Allow the onion to cool down enough to handle and squeeze out as much juice as possible into a small bowl.

Option 2: Skip the cooking, toss your peeled onion into a food processor, and use a nut milk bag to strain the solids, reserving all the liquid.

2. It is essential that what you place in the ear is ONLY liquid. No solids or fibers at all. Straining the liquid through a clean cloth or coffee filter will help ensure that there is no debris in the onion juice.

3. The juice should be cool enough to use at this point. Using a medicine dropper, I place a few drops into the sore ear and keep their head tilted to retain the juice for at least a few minutes. After this, I tilt their head to the opposite side to allow the liquid to drain.

4. Enjoy the lifted mood – due to relieved pain – of your little one (or yourself).

Optional: Try warm compresses. Use a small heating pad or hot water bottle to apply warmth to the affected ear. Be sure to use a warm but still comfortable temperature. If you don’t have one, you can soak a clean washcloth or hand towel in warm water, wring out, and apply the compress to the affected ear. Repeat as necessary.

Optional: I have found that onion juice works on its own, but over-the-counter meds like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can also provide relief.

Cautions & Considerations

Use caution when placing anything in the ear canal. You can put the onion juice on and around the ear if you are weary. Alternatively, you can place a thick onion slice on the ear. I’ve heard that helps as well.

Do not use it if you are allergic to onions.

While I appreciate and believe in the benefits of home remedies for some ailments, I am not a healthcare provider. Earaches and infections can become very serious, and I encourage you to use your intuition and best judgment. Consult a trusted physician if you are ever in doubt — especially if the pain persists, you have a fever, or you experience other symptoms. Antibiotics or other medications may be necessary for a severe infection to prevent damage to the eardrum or other complications.

If you’re hoping to relieve an earache fast, try it! If you do, please let me know if it worked for you!


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