Possible chemical burn from ear ointment


out of the house and into the grow out coop
Mar 1, 2020
I hoping you can help me and my special needs chicken Dolly. Dolly and I have been guided through several health questions and she has gone above my expertise with yet another mind boggler for me. A few months ago my vet gave me some ear medication after I sent him some photos of both ears having discharge and crust around canal opening. The ointment he gave was applied daily for several days and her head shaking and crusty discharge cleared up. About a Week ago she started showing the same signs of discomfort and after a call to the vet I was told to reapply the medication. This time instead of being cooperative she was very combative and she shook her head immediatmey after application of medication into her ears and area around the ears became greasy with ointment. I used a kleenex to remove extra medication from her feathers and applied it again the next day. I realize now she was probably combative because it was burning her. Last night would have been 3 consequtive days of applying ointment but I decided against it when I discovered the irritation around and inside her ear. It looks like a chemical burn and it is very red and has a hard dry crust on it. Her ear canal also looks red and swollen but she isn't making it easy to get a good look at it. My instinct is to apply a clear ointment to keep it soft and give her some aspirin for pain. She isn't very active and sits with her head in the corner so I know it's uncomfortable if not painful. I thought maybe more experienced keepers might have another suggestion to sooth the ears. I am not sure why the medication caused a reaction the second time I have used it, but there has not been any changes in her routine or anything else applied to her ears that would explain it. Any thoughts or recommendations would be greatly appreciated. I called the vet who told me to treat ears again with the same medication and he started his vacation after shift yesterday and the other vets in the clinic won't treat poultry. It was hard to get a good photo but I did attach a few of each side, photo of medication that was applied and her stool has changed in last few days as well so sharing it too just in case it fits in here somewhere. She is eating but is off her normal intake Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Wyorp Rock

Hi Ya'll🙂
Premium Feather Member
Sep 20, 2015
Southern N.C. Mountains
Do you know the cause of the ear infections? Mycoplasma, ear canker, ear mites, etc.?
Is the inside of her beak clear of lesions, plaques, canker?

For the outer skin to help and sooth, I think I would use Hen Healer, it's Lanolin based with beeswax, I've used it on irritated skin. It's BRIGHT Blue, so be warned about that LOL. You can find it online or at stores like TSC.
Just my 2¢ on that.

The poop is not normal. If possible, can your vet run a fecal float?

@Eggcessive may have a better idea of what you can use.


Premium Feather Member
Apr 3, 2011
southern Ohio
I agree with @Wyorp Rock to use something more mild on the ear. The gentamycin is a good antibiotic and the steroid that is in the ointment should help, but she may have deceloped an allergy to it. It would be good to know if she has a chronic bacterial reapiratory disease that is causing this recurrence. Have you ever seen any sneezing, breathing crackles, watery/bubbly eye or nasal drainage? I would look her over for lice and mites as well, since she may be scratching herself.


out of the house and into the grow out coop
Mar 1, 2020
Thanks everyone sorry for the delay updating. I used some bag balm that I had in hand and tried to lightly massage it into the burn to help sooth it. She really enjoyed that and all I had to do was put some on my finger and she vigoursly rubbed it in for me. By the following night the scab was loose and she rubbed a lot of the crust off herself while I was rubbing her head. This morning while rubbing her ears a scab that extended into the ear canal came loose and it left behind some debris that I massaged to the surface and was able to remove in two pieces. I will attach a photo with a size comparison. I would say this huge ball of wax is at least part of the problem. All of this from one ear. She immediately seemed to perk up and was slightly more active. Not her abnormal normal self just yet but I see improvement. She does not have any visible lice, mites or evidence of eggs. She has never shown any sign of sneezing, coughing, no mouth lesions, no nasal discharge or bubbly eyes. I have never had a chicken with wax lime this in her ear. Guessing it is possible it is at least partially part of the initial Infection and surely it could set up a great environment for one to linger and fester in an unhealthy ear blocked with wax. I plan to get her into see the vet personally when he returns. Remember he has never actually out his hands on her. I messaged him with her symptoms and a handheld microscope view of herniuter ear showing crust and built up around the canal with her other observed behaviors supporting an ear problem. He had me do another ointment application after a phone call. I think it is gone far enough now that she needs to be seen. It may not be a straight forward problem. I like the idea of a fecal test as well. Can you believe the size of the gob of goo that came out of that one ear. Poor girl.

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