Common Causes And Remedies For Itchy Ears

Itchy ears are very common and every one of us has experienced this annoying sensation. The skin of our ear is very sensitive and itching ears is a reaction to indicate that something is wrong. Though it’s harmless and not a very serious issue, but it can become an issue if it’s chronic.

It’s easy to scratch an itchy ear lobe or itchy ears outside, but can be very irritating if it’s an itchy ear canal. Let us get familiar with a few common causes of itchy ears and the available remedies.

Table Of Contents

What Causes Itchy Ears?

There are many reasons for itchy ears, you may have itchy ears without any underlying medical condition, but because of highly sensitive skin. If it’s not a case of sensitive skin, then one of the following could be the ear itching causes.

1. Dry Itchy Ears Or Dry Flaky Ears

The glands in our ear produce earwax and some oil, this secretion keeps the skin of the ear healthy. Some people may not produce enough earwax, this results in dry ears. In absence of earwax and oil, the dry skin starts flaking and peeling off leading to dry flaky ears.

There are cases where the ears do produce earwax, but it’s removed as some people have the habit of cleaning their ears very often. This can also cause dry itchy ears as the earwax is necessary to keep the outer ear moisturized.

Home Remedy For Dry Itchy Ears

Before you determine the cause of the dry itchy ears, ensure that the skin is moisturized. Clean your ears with a soft cloth to remove the dead skin if any.

Do not clean or remove earwax aggressively or use rubbing alcohol as it will increase dryness. Apply a moisturizer, a drop of baby oil or olive oil is a good dry ears home remedy. You can also buy a cream containing lactic acid.

If you do not see improvement in a few days and the ear itch persists, consult a doctor who may prescribe ear drops for dry itchy ears or anti-fungal cream.

2. Itchy Ears Due To Earwax Blockage

If too little earwax is a cause of itchy ears, then too much earwax is also a cause. Earwax produced in the ear keeps the skin moist and also traps foreign particles. The earwax collects dust and dead skin over time and discharges naturally or is self-cleaning.

Avoid using fingers, pins, or cotton-tipped buds to clean the ears. By inserting these objects, we end up blocking the ear canal by pushing the earwax deeper. This can lead to temporary hearing loss and built-up of bacteria which causes ear itching.

Remedy For Earwax Blockage

There are many home remedies for cleaning earwax like using hydrogen peroxide or olive oil. Earwax softeners are available at the chemist to dislodge the accumulated earwax. Read our blog on tips for earwax removal at home. Visit a doctor for cleaning if the earwax is hard and dry, do not use any hard object to force it out.

Do not use cotton tip buds for earwax removal blog image
Do not use cotton tip buds for earwax removal

3. Allergies And Itchy Ears

Many people suffer from itchy ear allergies. Allergic Rhinitis or hay fever is one of the most common types. Hay fever not only affects the nose but also causes itchy ears along with a sore throat. Hay fever is due to a reaction to the following:

  • Pollen
  • Hair and dry skin shedding of pet cats or dogs
  • Mold (Type of fungus)
  • Dust mites
  • Irritants, such as smoke or perfume

Hay Fever Remedy

Take an antihistamine available at the chemist. Antihistamines are anti-allergy medicines; the popular ones are Benadryl and Cetirizine. Once the doctor has confirmed that you suffer from allergic rhinitis, take precautions and stay away from pets and smokers. Avoid going out during the pollen season, clean sheets and upholstery to get rid of dust mites.

4. Skin Allergies

At times it is difficult to pinpoint the cause of sudden ear itching. If you have changed your soap or shampoo, it could be the cause. Stop using the new product and observe if the itchy ears sensation stops.

5. Itching Ears Due To Skin Diseases

The following skin diseases also cause itching ears.

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease and speeds up the life cycle of the skin. Accumulated dead skin causes itchy outer ears and red patches.

Ear Eczema

Ear eczema can cause itching around the ears, inside the ear, and on the earlobes too.
Contact Dermatitis or contact eczema occurs when the skin comes in contact with something that causes a reaction. Jewelry, cosmetics, soaps, and shampoos are some of the reasons.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic Dermatitis of the ear is a skin rash that causes ear canal itching and flaking.

Home Remedies for Skin Allergies

  • Wash your ears with warm water before retiring
  • Apply moisturizers on the ears after bathing to retain moisture
  • Avoid using jewelry, if that is the cause
  • Use over the counter anti-itch creams
  • Use cosmetic products that are gentle and suit your sensitive skin

If the home remedies do not work, visit a dermatologist for treatment. The above skin diseases not only cause itchy ears inside but also itchy ears outside and sometimes itchy behind the ears as well.

6. Itchy Ears Due To Food Allergy

In some people, the immune system reacts to certain food products. The immune system considers proteins in these foods as pathogens that are unwanted and harmful to the body and resist their presence. This results in skin reactions all over the body including the ears.

What Foods Cause Itchy Ears?

The following foods are some of the sources of allergy causing ear itching:

  • Nuts
  • Milk
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Wheat
  • Soy

Though food allergy causes various reactions like rash, hives, and redness on the face and body, it also causes ear itching.

Remedy For Food Allergy

Antihistamines help if the reaction is mild. if the reaction is severe and leads to breathlessness, difficulty in speaking, and dizzy spells, then it is a case of a medical emergency. Rush the patient to the hospital as it is a case of anaphylaxis.

Doctor checking ears blog image
Doctor checking ears for earwax or infection. Image Courtesy: freepik.com

7. Ear Infection And Itching

An ear infection is very common and can happen due to various reasons. An itchy ear is a sign of a mild ear infection or, infection in the early stages.

A bacterial or viral infection is the possible cause of sore throat and itchy ears. Read about ear infections and how to prevent them.

8. Ear Itching Due To Swimmers Ears

Swimmers’ ears also known as otitis externa is an infection of the outer ear. It is caused by the presence of water in the ear. It is so named because swimmers are prone to it. The bacteria multiply in the wet, damp ear causing infection.

Remedy For Swimmers Ears

Swimmers ear is a bacterial infection and is a cause of itchy outer ears. Ideally, you should keep your ears dry, but if that is not possible, use swimming earplugs while in the water.

These earplugs prevent water from getting in. In case, they do not fit well and some water leaks in, apply Vaseline before inserting the earplugs. The Vaseline will seal the sides.

You can also use a homemade mixture of mineral oil and hydrogen peroxide. Use the mixture as eardrops.
Visit a doctor for antibiotic eardrops in case the infection is severe.

9. Ear Itching Due To Hearing Aids

Generally the shell of the BTE hearing aid does not cause itching outside the ear. But if the hearing aid does not fit well, it will rub against the skin and cause ear itch, redness, and irritation.

There are chances that the dome or the earmold of the hearing aid is the cause of the ear itch. The earmold traps moisture inside the ear and prevents air circulation.

Remedy To Prevent Ear Itching Due To Hearing Aids

Hearing aid users should clean the earmold with a disinfectant every day before inserting it to prevent itching. Ultraviolet dehumidifiers used to keep the hearing aids moisture free, also work as a disinfectant.

10, Ear Itch Due To Earbuds

Music lovers who listen to music using earbuds for long hours have a higher possibility of getting an ear itch. Some reports mention an increase in bacterial load in the ear if an earbud or in-ear headphone use is continuous for an hour or more. The dirt collected on the earbud tip is transferred to our ear resulting in an itchy inner ear.

The earbuds seal the ear canal preventing circulation of fresh air. The humid air trapped in the ear canal promotes the growth of bacteria.

Remedy To Prevent Ear Itch While Using Earbuds

The remedy is quite simple and practical, carry alcohol wipes or use a sanitizer to disinfect the earbud before inserting it in the ear. Do not use earbuds for long periods and ventilate your ears frequently.

If the ear itch continues and you are unable to identify the cause or the home remedies for itchy ears are not effective, visit your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

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