Although the ears can be quite small compared to an arm or a leg, they are full of sensitive neurological fibers. As a result, the ears are subject to a fair amount of itchiness. It is possible that we have itchy ears simply because they are very sensitive.
However, itchy ears can also indicate an underlying medical condition. By understanding some of the causes of itchy ears, we can determine how to find relief.
There are some clear causes for the appearance of itchy ears and discomfort in the ears.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, keeping your ears too clean can instigate itchiness. The apparently hygienic habit may be harming the health of the ear. The skin of the ear canal produces earwax. This sticky substance is important in helping to protect the ear from trauma, water damage, and even bacteria.
Excessive cleaning can remove this protective coating, making it easier for nosy microbes to enter. It can also lead to inflammation, especially if you accidentally break the skin, which invites infection. All of this can result in irritation, and may be the reason why the inside of our ears itches.
Earwax usually clears from the ear canal on its own. So it is recommended to stop putting objects in the ears to clean them. Instead, we will gently dry the outer ears with a towel after bathing.
Although wax can protect your ears, too much can cause itchiness. Other symptoms of excessive earwax buildup include pain or an odor coming from the ear, and the ear may feel clogged.
Fortunately, there are many things a person can do to prevent wax buildup. A few drops of hydrogen peroxide can break down and loosen excess wax, which can then be more easily removed by the body.
Wax softening kits and bulb irrigation kits may also be helpful. On the other hand, we’ll avoid cotton swabs (which can unintentionally push wax deeper into the ear), sharp objects like bobby pins (which can tear the delicate skin inside your ear), or ear candles (which can cause burns). .
underlying skin condition
Like the rest of the body, the ear canal is covered with skin. And that makes you equally susceptible to skin problems like eczema and psoriasis. In fact, dermatological conditions can develop within and lead to itchy rashes in the ears. So if you are wondering why ears are hot and itchy, this could be the cause.
If we suspect that skin problems are the source of itching, we will consult a dermatologist or otolaryngologist. There are many medications to treat dermatological problems such as dermatitis and psoriasis (such as ear drops or oral steroids), but they must be tailored to the individual.
Itching could be a symptom of an outer ear infection, also known as otitis externa or swimmer’s ear. External otis occurs when the ear canal, the opening that extends from the eardrum to the outside of the head, becomes infected due to excess moisture that accumulates inside the ear and promotes bacterial growth.
This tends to happen to people who spend a lot of time in the water, which is why the condition is called swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear can also develop when fingers, cotton swabs, or other objects are inserted into the ear, which can damage the delicate skin of the ear canal and cause infection. In addition to itching, swimmer’s ear can cause pain, drainage, and hearing changes.
This should be treated by a medical professional who can administer topical ear drops and cleanse the ear canal. Attempting to self-clean with home kits is not recommended, as we may inadvertently cause trauma to the ear canal, which will only make the situation worse.
It is advised to wear a tight fitting bath or shower cap when swimming or bathing. This can help prevent swimmer’s ear in the first place by reducing the amount of water that enters the ears.
Allergy in the skin
If the ears are irritated and itchy, it could mean that we are experiencing an allergic reaction related to the skin.
Many things can cause skin sensitivity, including earphone materials, soaps, shampoos, makeup, and even certain metals in earrings. In fact, nickel is a common skin allergy culprit and can lead to itchy ears, redness, dry patches, or swelling.
If we ask ourselves why our ears itch, we will analyze if we have used any new products or worn jewelry recently. Once we determine what is causing the allergic reaction, avoiding contact is the best option to reduce itchy ears.
Although this type of itching is usually temporary (lasting 12 to 48 hours after contact), over-the-counter steroid creams (such as hydrocortisone) and oral antihistamines can provide relief in the meantime.
The same histamine response that triggers watery eyes and sneezing can also produce a prickling sensation in the ears. Seasonal allergies like pollen or hay fever can make your ears go crazy with itchiness.
In the short term, we can use a small amount of over-the-counter steroid cream in the ear canal to soothe itching. But this is only a temporary solution. That’s why it’s best to work with a doctor to learn how to manage seasonal allergies. Treatment options may include oral (or nasal) antihistamines, saline nasal irrigations, nasal steroids, and, for people with severe allergy symptoms, immunotherapy (ie, allergy shots).
Some people may have an extreme allergic reaction to pollen called anaphylaxis, in which the throat closes up and makes it hard to breathe.
Irritation from a hearing aid
People who wear hearing devices may be more prone to pricking ears. There are many reasons for this:
- May contribute to wax or moisture buildup
- They are a “foreign object” and their mere presence inside the ear can produce a strange or tingling sensation
- May contain materials that trigger allergies or dermatitis
If hearing aids make our ears itchy, we will notify the hearing aid provider. Your doctor can examine us to make sure the device fits properly and provide guidance on how to keep your hearing aids clean to prevent wax buildup.
Itchy ears are usually due to a failure in the health of the ear skin. Treatment usually seeks to correct these faults. Common causes are wax lubrication, excess water in the ear, foreign particles and debris in the ear.
If the itchy ears are the result of an allergic reaction, we should avoid using any products that may have caused the irritation. These include new earrings and personal care products. We will always talk to a doctor before putting ointments or drops in or on the ear. This ensures that we are not putting anything irritating in the ear. Also, if we have a damaged eardrum, we should not use ointments or drops unless the doctor specifically prescribes them.
Your doctor may recommend or prescribe the following:
- antibiotic ointment
- Baby oil to soften the skin
- Topical steroid ointment that relieves inflammation, such as 1 percent hydrocortisone cream or 0.1 percent betamethasone cream
- Swimmer’s ear drops or a diluted solution of isopropyl alcohol, acetic acid, or hydrogen peroxide
Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection if your itchy ears are accompanied by a high temperature or blood or pus coming from the ear. We will consider scheduling regular appointments with the doctor to clean the ears. This can minimize trauma to the area while helping us remove excess earwax.
To avoid irritation, we will avoid cleaning the ears with objects such as cotton balls, swabs, paper clips or hairpins. Other ways to avoid ear irritation include:
- Wear anti-allergy jewelry, which can prevent allergic reactions that cause itching.
- If we swim frequently, we will use a solution to dry excess water in the ear canal.
- If we experience excessive earwax production, we may want to keep the earwax to a manageable level by using doctor-approved approaches such as ear drops.