Boric acid use by doctors
July 16, 2013 7:06 PM   Subscribe

I went to the ear nose and throat doctor today for a ear problem and he "puffed" boric acid powder into my ears that was in a clear glass bottle with a metal horizontal straw that puffed the white powder. Is this usually pure boric acid powder or do they dilute it with cornstarch or baby powder or something. It seems like it would be too strong to use the pure stuff but what do I know.
posted by john123357 to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I have no idea what doctors use for the ears, but I do know that boric acid is used in vaginal suppositories to treat yeast infections. Sometimes it's just straight boric acid powder in a gelatin capsule. If it can safely go in the vagina, it's probably okay for your ear canal. (Did you have a fungal ear infection, by chance?)
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:30 PM on July 16, 2013

This article (behind a paywall; memail me if you need the whole thing and don't have access through school or work) unfortunately it doesn't list where they bought their boric acid, but it doesn't mention mixing it with any inert substances and their comparison of the cost of different treatments seems to indicate that the boric acid they used was no different from what you'd buy at a regular drugstore.
posted by kagredon at 8:41 PM on July 16, 2013

Boric acid is a weak acid (pKa = 9.24), what makes you think it would be "too strong"? It is toxic when ingested, but apparently it is used in its pure form in powder form as an antiseptic and in diluted form in the suppositories mentioned above. I am just guessing here, but I expect that the antiseptic nature is due not due to the acidity, but due to other chemical properties.
posted by swordfishtrombones at 3:14 AM on July 17, 2013

Response by poster: I know when I used the pure powder to kill ants if I got any on my skin it was very irritating to it, it seems strange that they would use the pure powder to put in ears
posted by john123357 at 10:19 AM on July 17, 2013

oops, that should link here. As for the skin irritation, how much did you get on your skin? Even if it didn't seem like much, it was still probably quite a bit more than the thin layer in your ear from being blown in. The other thing is that boric acid is a dessicant (draws moisture), which is good when it's drawing excessive water out of your ear canal, but could be why it irritated your skin, especially if you already have dry or sensitive skin.
posted by kagredon at 12:44 PM on July 17, 2013

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