Burow's solution

Burow's solution is an aqueous solution of aluminium triacetate. It is available in the U.S. as an over-the-counter drug for topical administration, with brand names including Domeboro (Moberg Pharma), Domeboro Otic, Star-Otic, and Borofair.[1] The preparation has astringent and antibacterial properties and may be used to treat a number of skin conditions, including insect bites and stings, rashes caused by poison ivy and poison sumac, swelling, allergies, and bruises. However, its main use is for treatment of otitis (ear infection), including otomycosis (fungal ear infection).[2]


The creator of Burow's solution upon which Domeboro, Domeboro Otic, Star-Otic, and Borofair are based was Karl August Burow (1809-1874), a military surgeon and anatomist. Burow was also the inventor of plastic surgery and wound healing techniques which are still in wide use today.[3]

The pronunciation of the solution's name in English either parallels the surname's German pronunciation (/ˈbʊrɒf/) or, sometimes, shows a spelling pronunciation that probably simply reflects lack of awareness of the etymology (/ˈbʊr/).


Burow's solution may be used to treat various forms of otitis.[4][5] As a drug it is inexpensive and non-ototoxic. In cases of otomycosis it is less effective than clotrimazole but remains an effective treatment.[6]

Skin irritation

Most versions of Burow's solution, such as the American brand Domeboro, can be used as a soak or compress. As an approved astringent by the FDA, Domeboro is used for the relief of skin irritations due to poison ivy, oak and sumac, rashes from allergic reactions to soaps, detergents, cosmetics and jewelry. This is due to the combination of two active ingredients found in this version of Burow's solution, i.e. aluminum sulfate tetradecahydrate and calcium acetate monohydrate.[7][8][9]

Off-label use

Many consumers have found off-label uses for Burow's solution. Due to the strength of the solution, some use it to treat ingrown nails, where Burow's solution products such as Domeboro are used in combination with warm water to help consumers reduce irritation and contain infection when present.[10]

See also


  1. Drugs.com: Acetic acid/ aluminum acetate solution
  2. Thorp; Kruger, J.; Oliver, S.; Nilssen, E. L. K.; Prescott, C. A. J.; et al. (1998). "The antibacterial activity of acetic acid and Burow's solution as topical otological preparations". J. Laryngology & Otology. Cambridge University Press. 112 (10): 925–928. doi:10.1017/S0022215100142100.
  3. https://books.google.com/books?id=N5nWmFCbYqcC
  4. Kashiwamura M, Chida E, Matsumura M, Nakamaru Y, Suda N, Terayama Y, Fukuda S (January 2004). "The efficacy of Burow's solution as an ear preparation for the treatment of chronic ear infections". Otology & Neurotology. 25 (1): 9–13. doi:10.1097/00129492-200401000-00002. PMID 14724484. Retrieved 2013-05-18.
  5. Kashiwamura, Masaaki; Chida, Eiji; Matsumura, Michiya; Nakamaru, Yuuji; Suda, Noriyuki; Terayama, Yoshihiko; Fukuda, Satoshi (Jan 2004). "The Efficacy of Burow's Solution as an Ear Preparation for the Treatment of Chronic Ear Infections". Otology & Neurotology. 25 (1): 9–13. doi:10.1097/00129492-200401000-00002. PMID 14724484.
  6. Munguia, Raymundo; Daniel, Sam J. (April 2008). "Ototopical antifungals and otomycosis: A review". International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology. 72 (4): 453–459. doi:10.1016/j.ijporl.2007.12.005. PMID 18279975.
  7. "Domeboro". http://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/. U.S. National Library of Medicine. External link in |website= (help)
  8. "FDA". http://www.fda.gov/. External link in |website= (help)
  9. http://www.domeboro.com/about-domeboro/
  10. http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/symptoms/foot-pain/ingrown-toenails.html
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