A fairly common complaint that ENT doctors often hear about is the excessively itchy ear. The top 5 causes of an itchy ear complaint are as follows: Typically, patients with itchy ears due to earwax have earwax that is more light-colored, dry, and flaky in appearance. Treatment is removal of the earwax using liquid drops, flushing with water, or professional removal with a doctor. The itching should resolve immediately.
Especially in men who frequently get haircuts, loose hair may fall into the ear canal. Just like a piece of loose hair on the face, it can trigger an annoying itchy sensation. Treatment is removal of the offending piece of hair the same way you would remove earwax. The itching should resolve immediately.
Just like dry skin elsewhere on the body that may pop up, the ear canal skin can also become dry. When it becomes excessively dry, it becomes very itchy. Treatment is to GENTLY apply facial lotion to the ear canal skin with a q-tip or finger a few times a day. If the itching is very deep in the ear canal, a few drops of sweet oil or mineral oil will work better.
Symptoms should resolve within one week. The ear canal skin itself can become irritated, inflamed, and itchy due to a condition similar to eczema. Treatment is careful application of a steroid cream to the ear canal skin with a q-tip or finger. Sometimes, a few drops of sweet oil or mineral oil will work as an alternative.
However, sometimes a prescription steroid ear drop may be required for successful resolution, typically within 1-2 weeks. If any mold or fungus grows in the ear canal usually triggered by too many days of antibiotic ear drops, it can cause a severe itching sensation. Rarely is there any pain present. Treatment is complete removal of as much fungus as possible followed by antifungal cream or drops into the ear canal.
Symptoms typically resolve within 1 week.
Oher causes of itchy ears can include:
1. Ear infections
A person may have itchy ears as the result of an infection.
Itchy ears can sometimes be due to an infection or a sign that one is developing.
Bacteria and viruses can cause ear infections in conjunction with a cold or flu. Infections can also occur if someone has water trapped in their ear or a buildup of earwax.
Chronic ear infections are recurring and may require medical treatment.
2. Dry ears
Ears usually produce oil and earwax to keep the ear clean and healthy. If people clean their ear too much, it can remove the wax from the ear and dry it out, causing irritating itchiness.
Other people may not produce enough ear wax naturally, resulting in dry ears. If people have dry ears, they may notice flakes of dry skin around their ear.
3. Food allergies
An allergic reaction to a certain food can cause people to have itchy ears. Common food allergies include:
fish and shellfish
People may also experience itchiness on the rest of the face. Some people develop hives.
Oral allergy syndrome is a type of allergic reaction related to pollen that typically causes itchiness around the mouth, but some people also report having itchy ears.
Common foods that cause oral allergy syndrome include:
fruits, such as apples, melons, cherries, kiwi, and bananas
If a person has trouble breathing after eating or coming into contact with an allergen, they may be experiencing anaphylaxis. This is a medical emergency and requires immediate care.
4. Earwax blockage
A buildup of earwax can cause itchy ears and affect a person’s hearing.
The ears produce earwax to help keep the ear clean and protect the inner ear from infection. Earwax naturally moves out of the ear, carrying dead skin cells and debris, where it will then dry out and fall away over time.
A buildup of earwax can happen if people stick something into their ear canal, which is the small tunnel that connects the outer ear to the middle and inner ear.
If people insert a cotton swab, bobby pin, finger, or twisted cloth into their ear, it can irritate the ear canal and push earwax farther back, causing a blockage.
An earwax blockage can trap bacteria in the ear and cause an infection.