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How To Get Rid of Itchy Ears – Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Aparajita SharmaReviewed by Ms. Aprajita Sharma Sr. Audiologist and Speech Therapist BASLP, MPH (Epidemiology) on Apr 9th, 2019 written by Editorial Team

Ears are the most sensitive sense organ, which gets prone to the infections easily.  These infections in the ear will cause an irresistible urge to stretch your ears by some sharp objects. However, These sharp objects like bobby-pins, coat hangers, cotton swabs, and toothpicks can cause you the ear trauma in the ear canal and the damaging of tiny bones inside the ear can produce the risks of hearing loss.

The most common cause of itchy ear(itching in the ear) is a nervous habit, fungal infection or maybe some skin diseases like Dermatitis, dead cells and dry skin. Relief from the itchy ears depends on the reason for its occurrence.

One of the main reason behind itching in ears is excessive use of headphones or exposure to the loud noise which can increase the risks factor of occurring Tinnitus and hearing loss

The skin of the ear canal is very thin and that’s why it is more prone to dryness and dangerous effect. Therefore, to avoid the problems of itchy ears always clean the area around the earbuds of listening devices like headphones.

Some of the common causes of Itchy Ears

The causes of itching in the ear can be anything from insects bite to fungal infections, which can make the skin of the ear highly inflammatory. The causes of the itchy ear are categorized as the bilateral and unilateral ear itch. The bilateral ear itch can occur due to bacterial or fungal infection whereas, the unilateral are due to internal ear problems.

There are many reasons for the itchy ears. Some of the major reasons for itching in ears are discussed as follows:

Earwax Buildup

Earwax Buildup

The human ear has its own phenomena to excrete out the dirt and dead skin cells from the ear in the form of earwax. This earwax is not only dirt but also preserve your ear from foreign particles entering the ear canal. Earwax is also responsible for itchy ear if the amount of earwax produced by your ear is more or the present earwax are pushed too far into the ear canal.

Thick and hard ear wax block the ear canal and people trying to clean it through cotton swabs can, even more, worsen the condition. Blocking of ear canal also tends to other severe problems.

The ways to remove earwax from the ear canal are enormous which can be adopted without hindering the hearing ability of an individual. Avoiding cotton swabs and another pointed object to the ears is a must.

Do read – Why cleaning ear with Cotton Swab should be avoided?

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is the chronic skin disease in which red scales and patches are visible over the skin. It causes the rapid growth of skin cells before the time of fall off. Inflammation and redness around the patches are very common in psoriasis. They might develop anywhere in the body including

affect of Psoriasis on hands

  • Neck
  • Scalpers
  • Ear
  • Hands
  • Feet and
  • Rarely around nails, face, and genitals.

You can get over with psoriasis or eczema with the help of ear drops and in the severe conditions, you might have to take steroid pills.

Outer ear infections(swimmer’s ear)

Swimmer’s ear is also known as the type of otitis externa or the outer ear infection. It usually occurs in the opening of the outer ear and the ear canal connecting to the eardrum. It is common for teen and adults spending a lot of time while swimming.

You do not really have to be a swimmer for having swimmers ear, bathing in dirty water can also produce this ear infection. In these cases, earwax can provide protection to some extent but the itching is normal.

You can protect your ear from outer ear infection by draining out the water from the ear after swimming and if the infection has occurred then consult your doctor for some ear drops.

Do read – How to remove water from the ear?

Malignant otitis externa

Malignant Otitis Externa is similar to the swimmer’s ear which causes itching but they are not caused due to water remaining in the ear canal unlike the outer ear infection but the causes behind malignant are bacteria. 90% of people suffering from malignant otitis externa are patient with diabetes. It occurs to the person having a low immune system and suffering from diseases like:

  • Diabetes
  • Chemotherapy
  • HIV
  • AIDS

Basically, the bacteria enters your ear canal and causes infection. This infection reaches up to the tissues of the ear canal and destroys them along with the bones at the base of your skull. So, if they are left untreated it can reach up to the brain and the nervous system.

Do read – Ear Infection Symptoms | Causes | Home Remedies | Relief & Treatment

Allergic Reactions

signs of allergic reaction

Itchy ears can be caused by the inflammation in the lining of the ear canal due to an allergic reaction. And this reaction is due to shampoos, soaps with an expiry date or metal earrings. Sometimes the itching in ears is also due to the change of products because the ear canal is very sensitive.

Loss of Cerumen

Loss of cerumen can also cause itchy ears because the skin of ear canal is so thin and if you remove all cerumen from the ear canal it will make ears so dry and it results in the itching ears.

Some of the common symptoms of Itchy Ears

Itchy ears show some of the common symptoms which involves the continuous desire to scratch your ears. The symptoms of the itchy ear can be variable along with scratching which is dependable on its symptoms. So, the symptoms of ear itch have two parts:

  • Bilateral ear itch
  • Unilateral ear itch

Some of the causes of the bilateral itchy ear are the common cold, swimmer’s ear, dermatitis and normal congestion which shows the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue, Congestion
  • A headache
  • Pain in the ear canal
  • Ear fullness/pressure
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Ear pain that gets worse when moving
  • A sore throat
  • Dry skin, Scalp itchiness
  • Ear itch, Ear redness, Scabbed area of the ear
  • Feeling itchy or tingling all over, Flexor surface rash

Whereas, some of the common causes of the unilateral itchy ear are swimmers ear, chronic earwax buildup and it shows the following symptoms:

  • Fever,
  • Pain in an ear canal,
  • Ear fullness/pressure,
  • Continuous ear pain that gets worse when moving,
  • Dizziness,
  • Ringing in the ears or tinnitus,
  • Drainage from the ear.

Treatments

The ear itching is almost always manageable and curable if you seek appropriate medical assistance in a timely fashion. The treatment for itchy ears prescribed will vary depending upon the root cause of the itching ear and there are various options available.

The very common causes like loss of cerumen, common cold, congestion can heal up on their own so the doctor might prescribe you to manage the home condition in which your ear cannot be affected further or they might prescribe you with some antibiotic ear drops for itchy ears and excessive pain or ear infection so the people get itchy ear relief quickly. So the treatment for the itchy ear is

Wear shower caps

These shower caps are prescribed commonly to prevent the affected area from getting moist. They can be used by the having itchy ear due to swimmers ear, allergic reaction and unsuitable hearing aids.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is one the best way to treat the itchy ears. It helps in smoothening the hard wax so that ear wax can be excreted out. You just need to tilt your head and release 3 to 4 drops of hydrogen peroxide into your ear. Leave the solution for some time and then clean it properly using cotton swabs.

Moisturizing ear drops

These ear drops are used to treat the dry skin of the ear canal caused by loss of the cerumen. Sometimes cotton swabs are used with high precautions to clean the ear gently. In these cases, swimming should be highly prohibited.

Moisturizing ear drops

Antibiotic Ear Drops

In case of ear infection, these drops are used to tackle the pathogens causing irritation. Corticosteroid drops or anti-fungal drops are prescribed for swelling around the outer ear. They are easily available and their cost ranges from $5-$10.

Antibiotic ear drops

Ear Syringing

In the case of earwax buildup, ear syringing process is used to clear the ear canal full of earwax. To clean the ear wax of ear canal a solution of saline is drop into the ear of a person. However, it hardly takes 30 minutes to complete the process.

Ear Syringing
Ear Syringing

Allergic reaction

In case of allergic reaction, the patient is diagnosed to determine the allergic factor. Some products or activities like swimming are prohibited.

Natural ear infection remedies

Bacteria and viruses cause an ear infection. Some of the Natural Remedies that can be adopted to get rid of the itching ears are :

Natural ear infection remedies

  • Garlic oil: Garlic has antimicrobial properties and quality of pain-relieving. Therefore, it is helpful in the treatment of infections.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: It is a good option to get rid of fungus infection.
  • Warm water-Bottle: It is helpful in removing micro-organism.
  • Olive oil: It removes the obstruction of the Eustachian tube blockage.
  • Salt: It is the most easily available home remedy to remove the ear infection.
  • Aloe Vera: Aloe vera plant that usually grows by the people in their home. It is used for various purposes to treat a different kind of problem. One of them is the itchy ear. Aloe vera gel helps in preserving the ph of ears as well as it reduces the swelling of the ear. Tilt your hear and put 3  to 4 drops of aloe vera gel into your ear. It heals the ear and maintains moisturizer surface. It has anti-inflammatory properties due to which itchy ear can be treated.
  • Vinegar: The white vinegar helps in reducing the itching from the ears. It helps in cleaning the ear as well as reduce the effect of itching simultaneously. You need to take rubbing alcohol and vinegar for a solution in the same amount. Drop the solution into your ears using a dropper.
  • Ginger: Ginger helps in reducing the itch from the itching ears. It has anti-inflammatory properties that relief the person from earaches and itching. Apply ginger juice into your ear canal. Do not drop ginger juice directly into your ear.
  • Hot Oil: The most used home remedy is oil. It is the best way and used widely in the world while having itching in the ear. Tilt your head and you just need to release the 3 to 4 drops into your ears. You can use any oil such as coconut oil, olive oil, tea tree oil, mustard oil.

Preventions

Yes, itching ears can also cause Hearing loss. But hearing loss due to the itchy ear is temporary and can be recovered easily. Hearing impairment due to an ear infection is temporary and it can be eliminated by using antibiotics. Antibiotics successfully treat the infection and your hearing should return to normal. Your hearing specialist can drain the fluid out from your ear canal and your ear becomes capable to hear properly and clearly.

Another major reason for hearing loss is when the Eustachian tube fails to do its job and you need to find a long-term measure to manage your hearing. Hence, You can adopt some of the safety measures to prevent itchy ears from returning such as:

  • Bathing with the compulsory wearing on the shower cap or cotton wool balls.
  • Headbands or swimmers earplugs are available to escape the moist ear
  • Antihistamine medications are used by the person having sensitive skin allergic to shampoos or formulated shower gels.
  • Earphones or hearing aids should be of a perfect fit.
  • Use of moisturizing cream or oils is suitable for excessive dryness.

What can you do about Itching Ears?

  • If you are using a hearing aid and it starts itching then you should consult your Audiologist.
  • Avoid using unnecessary liquids in the ear.
  • Avoid using continuous use of headphones.
  • If your skin is allergic, then consult with the dermatologist before changing your products.
  • Always try to clean the ear wax but not with the cotton swabs or pointed object.
  • Visit an Audiologist for your ear cleaning once in 6 months as over cleaning may also result in dry skin and itchy ears.

Dry Ears

The dry skin in ears causes by the buildup of dry, dead skin flakes and itchiness in the ear canal. The dry itchy ear can also be linked to skin allergies. It can be treated easily. Some people experience the dry flakiness of skin in and around the ear. It can cause the worst discomfort. The causes of dry ears include:

  • Eczema – It can develop in the ear canal and could be extremely irritating for a person. It can also affect the nose and scalp.
  • Psoriasis – It let the skin grow faster than they are shed. It is an autoimmune disorder.
  • Dermatitis – This can be a result of an allergic reaction to shampoos or skin-cleansing products. It is inflammation of the skin.

Itchy Ear Canal

People can’t stop scratching their ears? An itchy ear canal is a tube which connects your outer ear to your eardrum. It happens to people of all ages. Earwax buildup can be a reason for itchy ear canal because too much of it can make them itch. The itchy ear can be a sign of infection. After swimming if the water stays inside your ear for a long period of time it can take away your ear canal’s natural layer of defense against germs.

When to seek medical help

I will suggest you to immediately go to the audiologist if your ear starts bleeding or draining. And also If you are facing hearing loss suddenly then you should immediately seek medical help. It will be better for you because if you pay attention to it at the early stage then it won’t be difficult for you later.

You can also try some of the home remedies in the beginning and if it doesn’t work out and your itchy problems don’t improve by time then go and take the appointment for a specialist in audiologist. After taking the appoint visit the doctor and he will diagnose your problem and try to identify the cause for the itching.

He may check out for the ear wax build up in your ear. To pinpoint the cause he may ask you different questions about the symptoms you are facing and from when you are facing all this.

Maintaining Good Ear Health

  • Don’t use cotton swabs in your ears: This is the practice that is carried by most of the people. People think that putting a cotton swab in the ears protect your ear from the dust and water but this is not so simply putting the cotton swab into the ear can cause damage for no good reason
  • Clean the outside of your ears: You should keep the outside of ear clean. You can use some warm water, a cotton ball, or soap to clean the outside area of your ear gently. Cleaning the outside of the ear will let your ear don’t feel irritated and protects your ear canal free from the allergies and the infection. You can also do the same when you are taking the shower but you have to make sure that water doesn’t get inside your ears.
  • Wear earplugs when swimming: While swimming you can use earplugs or cotton to protect your ear from water. It won’t let water get trapped into the ear canal and protect your ear from the water as well as the debris. You should also wear earplugs when you are visiting the place where the volume is too loud or where there is a lot of noise. Listening to music to low volumes will be safe for your ears.

Outlook

Severe Itching in the ear can be so much frustrating with the chances of permanent hearing loss if not treated on time. And if you are suffering from it then it’s time to arrange a consultation. Don’t delay and ensure your hearing returns to its normal condition.

If you suspect any type of hearing loss, the very first step is to consult hearing care professional right away. So Book your schedule with us. Give us a call on our toll-free 1800-121-4408.

How To Get Rid of Itchy Ears – Causes, Treatment & Prevention
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