Cetraxal (Ciprofloxacin): Uses, Side Effects, Dosage

By Zina Semenovskaya, MD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
December 31, 2021

When you have an outer ear bacterial infection (also called swimmer’s ear), your healthcare provider may prescribe a medication called Cetraxal (ciprofloxacin otic).

Cetraxal is a prescription drug in a class of medications called quinolone antibiotics, which are used to kill the bacteria that cause outer ear infections.

In this article, I’ll explain more about what Cetraxal is.

I’ll also talk about what swimmer’s ear is, and how Cetraxal drops can be used to treat it, including dosage.

I’ll also outline some risks and precautions if you’re taking Cetraxal, and when you should talk to a doctor or other healthcare provider.

What is Cetraxal?

Cetraxal is a brand name for a quinolone antibiotic called ciprofloxacin.

It comes as ear drops, and is used to treat acute otitis externa (also called an outer ear infection, or swimmer’s ear) in children and adults.

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Cetraxal Uses

Cetraxal is prescribed to treat outer ear infections in adults and children, an infection that is most commonly caused by the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus

Ear infections

An ear infection is an infection or inflammation of the outer, inner, or middle ear.

They’re very common and can affect anyone at any age, but are especially common in children.

The most common type of ear infection is called a middle ear infection, or otitis media.

Outer ear infections (swimmer’s ear) are also common, especially in children.

Thankfully, most ear infections are easily treatable and do not lead to long lasting damage to your ear’s health.

What is swimmer’s ear?

Swimmer’s ear is an outer ear infection often caused by water that stays in your ears after swimming.

But swimming isn’t the only way you can get an outer ear infection.

Other possible causes include:

  • Moisture in your ear (caused by sweating, humidity, or left over water)
  • Scratches in of the outer ear and the ear canal 
  • Allergic reactions
  • Use of foreign objects in the ear, like hearing aids or ear plugs

Symptoms of swimmer’s ear can include:

  • Itching
  • Redness inside the ear
  • Discomfort
  • Muffled hearing
  • Clear, odorless fluid 
  • Severe ear pain (which can become worse when pulling on the outer ear or earlobe)

Unlike a middle ear infection (which can be caused by viruses), swimmer’s ear is usually caused by bacteria.

How to Use Cetraxal Ear Drops

Follow the directions on the prescription label carefully.

If any of the directions are unclear, ask your provider or pharmacist about how to proceed.

Cetraxal comes in liquid form (ear drops) and is designed for use in the ears only.

The medication is generally applied twice a day for seven days.

If your provider recommends otherwise, be sure to follow your provider’s instructions.

It’s a good idea to take the medication at about the same time each day.

The ear drops come in single-dose containers, which means each bottle is only meant to be used for one dose. 

When taking the medication:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly before applying the ear drops.
  2. Hold the container in your hand for one minute to warm the solution.
  3. Open the container and use the solution immediately after opening.
  4. Lie down with the affected ear facing upward.
  5. Place the solution into the affected ear.
  6. Remain lying down with the ear facing upward for at least one minute.
  7. If recommended by your provider, repeat the process on the other ear.
  8. Throw the container away immediately after using.

Symptoms should start to improve within 2-3 days of starting treatment.

If your symptoms do not improve after one week of starting Cetraxal, contact your provider as soon as possible.


Cetraxal is usually prescribed for use two times a day (roughly 12 hours apart) for seven days.

The solution in each single-use container is equivalent to 0.2% ciprofloxacin (0.5 mg in 0.25 mL).

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it, unless you are close to the timing of the next dose.

In that case, skip the missed dose and continue the regular dosing schedule.

Never take an extra dose to make up for a missed one.

What happens if I take too much?

Taking more of the medication than prescribed is not recommended and should be avoided.

If you’ve accidentally taken too much of the medication, contact your provider as soon as possible. 

Side Effects of Cetraxal

The most common adverse reactions, reported in 2-3% of patients treated with the medication, are:

  • Pain in the ear being treated
  • Itchy ears
  • Headache
  • Fungal ear infection (also called a superinfection)

Precautions for Cetraxal

Before starting Cetraxal, tell your provider about any medications, vitamins, supplements, or herbal products you’re currently taking.

Tell your provider if you are pregnant.

It’s also important to tell them if you are allergic to ciprofloxacin (Cipro), any other antibiotics, or any of the ingredients in Cetraxal.

Hypersensitivity to the medication could cause a skin rash.

If you notice a skin rash when starting the medication, discontinue use and contact your provider for more information.

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When to See a Doctor

Serious side effects are rare when taking Cetraxal, but still possible.

If you experience any of the following side effects, contact your provider as soon as possible:

  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Fever
  • Muscle weakness
  • Swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, hands, feet, ankles, lower legs, or eyes
  • Hoarseness
  • Any sign that your original infection has returned

How K Health Can Help

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Cetraxal used for?
Cetraxal is used to treat outer ear infections, also called swimmer’s ear, in children and adults.
What is Cetraxal?
Cetraxal is a prescription drug in a class of medications called quinolone antibiotics. It comes as ear drops, and is used to treat outer ear infections (also called otitis externa, or swimmer’s ear) in children and adults.
Is Cetraxal Plus an antibiotic?
Yes. Cetraxal Plus is a liquid solution containing ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic used to treat outer ear infections.
Is there a generic for Ciprodex drops?
Yes, Ciprodex is a brand name prescription medicine containing the antibiotics ciprofloxacin and a steroid called dexamethasone. The generic version is called Ciprofloxacin 0.3% and Dexamethasone 0.1% Otic Suspension. Ciprodex is not the same as Cetraxal; Cetraxal does not contain dexamethasone.

K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Zina Semenovskaya, MD

Dr. Semenovskaya specializes in emergency medicine, and received her medical degree from Weill Cornell Medical College. She is currently the medical director at Remote Emergency Medicine Consulting, LLC and splits her time working clinically as an emergency medicine attending in California and Alaska. She is the first of our doctors to be fluent in Russian.

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