The itchy ear canal is a common occurrence. You can feel an itching sensation in your ear due to various reasons. Most of the reasons may not cause any problem to your health. But, it is always advised to get the opinion of your doctor. Your ears are one of the smallest organs in your body. The ear is a sensitive organ constituting several neurological fibers. Therefore, the highly sensitive nature of the nerves makes it susceptible to itching. The uncomfortable sensation can disturb you. Therefore, you need to find methods to get relief from the problem. When you experience itching sensation along with other symptoms, it can indicate an underlying health problem. So, you need to get assistance from your doctor. From simple to complex issues, your doctor can advise the right solution that will offer relief. Want to more about the common problem? Then, read ahead.
Factors Leading To Itchy Ear Canal
Several factors, simple to serious can trigger itching sensation in your ear. When you experience itching in your ear, it can stem from the following situations:
Have you observed that your skin starts to itch when you stop using moisturizers? The dryness of your skin can trigger the itching. It is also true for your ears. The ear produces wax to keep it moist. Earwax also has lubricating effects. When your ears stop producing the necessary earwax, it leads to the skin lining inside the ear become dry. So, you can feel itching inside the ears. In some cases, people notice skin flakes coming from the ear.
Ear Canal Dermatitis
It is the skin problem leading to inflammation and irritation. The problem can cause the skin around your ear canal to become inflamed. It mostly occurs due to some allergic reaction to the products you use inside or near your ear. For example, personal care products or earrings (nickel allergy) can trigger itchy ear canal.
In some people, the use of metal earrings or use of beauty products around the ear can lead to ear eczema. It is the development of rash outside the ear or ear canal. The problem can cause dry, flaky skin in and around the ear canal. Without treatment, it can develop into acute otitis externa (ear canal inflammation).
Otitis Externa (Outer Ear Canal Infection)
The bacterial or fungal infection in your ear canal can lead to itching and pain. The problem also referred to as swimmer’s ear can cause infection. It mostly affects young children and adults who have a high possibility of getting water in their ears. Swimming, showering or bathing frequently can trigger the problem. So, you can experience inflammation inside the ear canal due to bacterial/fungal attack. It can cause redness and swelling.
Use Of Hearing Aids
People with hearing problem use hearing aids. But, the use of the aids can lead to water or moisture trapping inside the ear canal. In some cases, people using hearing aids can suffer from an allergic reaction to the device. The ill-fitting aids can put pressure on some areas of your ear. So, it can lead to an itching sensation.
Psoriasis is a skin condition triggering a red rash on different parts of the body. It can mostly occur in areas like arms, legs or in the ears. The chronic autoimmune problem can lead to the development of thick layers of skin on the affected body part. When it affects the ears, the flaky skin buildup can block the ears. So, the obstruction can trigger pain, itching, and hearing loss.
Symptoms Associated With Itchy Ear Canal
Itching anywhere in your body can make you uncomfortable. The itchy ear canal is a more irritating and bothersome problem. You feel like scratching the ear canal or use an earbud to reduce the itching. But, it will only make the problem worse. You can suffer from infection due to the breaking of the sensitive skin along the ear due to scratching. So, you can experience other signs associated with the problem like:
- Redness of the skin
- Fluid drainage from the infected ear
Seeking Medical Help For Itchy Ear Canal
At times the itching sensation can fade without any medical help. But, you need to observe certain signs. It points towards the severe underlying problem. So, make an appointment with your doctor if that itchy ear canal does not improve with time or taking care of it at home. Check for additional signs you can experience with itching like:
- Severe drainage of pus
- Bleeding from your ear canal
- Sudden loss of hearing
When you experience such signs, see a medical professional. The doctor can examine your ears and ask about your medical history. It will help get a clear picture of the problem you suffer. Your doctor can perform a physical assessment to identify the different problems like:
- Excess earwax
You need to mention all the symptoms you suffer to make a precise diagnosis. It will help your doctor identify the exact problem leading to the itching sensation.
Diagnosis Of Itchy Ear Canal
When you observe the itching sensation for more than a few days. Then, you need to seek medical assistance. You need professional help to diagnose the actual problem leading to itching. The following diagnostic methods can determine the accurate problem.
Usually, your doctor detects the presence of an ear problem with physical assessment. Your doctor can evaluate your signs and determine the underlying health problem. For adults, your doctor can use a lighted instrument also known as a pneumatic otoscope. Your doctor checks the condition of your ears, throat, as well as nasal passage to know the exact reason. While the problems in children are usually detected using a stethoscope. By listening to how they breathe, your doctor detects the issue.
Learn About Pneumatic Otoscope
The diagnosis of the problem mostly occurs with an assessment of your symptoms. Your doctor uses an instrument known as a pneumatic otoscope. It is a specialized tool designed to diagnose the different problems with your ear. In most cases, the tool can find the exact cause of the itching. It helps your doctor look into the ear. It also helps detect the presence of fluid behind the eardrum. It is also the tools to detect infection in different parts of the ear. Your doctor gently puffs air using the tool against your eardrum. It makes the eardrum to move. So, it can detect the presence of fluid or infection.
Treatment Options Available For Itchy Ear Canal
Ear canal itching is a disturbing condition that can make you uncomfortable. So, you need to take the necessary steps to manage the problem. Itching in your ears can occur due to different skin problems. When the skin lining your ear canal breaks down, it can result in itching. The treatment mainly aims to fix skin breakdown. The common possible causes for itchy ear canal are:
- Excess or low earwax lubrication
- Presence of moisture in the ear canal
- Foreign particles and debris in the ear
So, you need to focus on getting treatment for the above-mentioned conditions. You can try some home remedies first, to alleviate the discomfort caused by ear canal itching. If the condition persists even after trying the home remedies, then you need to see a medical professional. Your doctor can prescribe medication to treat the problem and prevent discomfort.
Home Remedies To Treat Itchy Ear Canal
Simple causes of itching require care at home. So, you can overcome the problem at home. But, consult your doctor before applying any of the methods. It will ensure that you never put anything irritating in your ear. It will help you safeguard your eardrum. When the home remedies fail to offer any relief, seek appointment from your ENT. You need treatment from a medical professional to overcome the problem.
An allergic reaction can trigger the itching in your ears. So, you need to refrain from products or food triggering the allergic reaction. You need to stop using the personal products, earrings or food items potentially causing the irritation. You need to track your diet and other activities that help you identify the triggers. Therefore, staying away from the triggers can help you avoid the itching. Using antihistamines to manage the allergies can also prevent itching.
Overcome Skin Dryness
The skin lining the ear canal can become dry and flaky. It can lead to itching. So, try to put a few drops of baby oil or olive oil in your ear. It will prevent dryness. People using hearing aids need to maintain caution while using oil. It must never touch the hearing aids. So, you can use it at night time, before going to bed. It avoids the oil coming in contact with the hearing aids and cause other problems.
Well-Fitting Hearing Aids
Ill-fitting hearing aids can trigger irritation. Therefore, you must always opt for customized aids that molds your ear well. You need to talk to your doctor if you experience an allergic reaction to the hearing aids. Only use custom-made aids to prevent allergic reaction, irritation or itching.
Dry Ear Canal
People who like to swim or take long baths need to use accessories (earplug or shower cap) to prevent water from getting into the ear. If water enters the ear canal accidentally, then use a hair dryer to eliminate the moisture.
The accumulated earwax can become hard and result in itching. So, you can use OTC ear drops or baby oil to loosen the wax. It will push the excess wax outside your ear canal. You can clean the outer ear using a cloth. Never insert anything inside the ear canal as it can damage it.
Manage Skin Conditions
Several skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema or others can result in the itchy ear. Therefore, you need to manage the skin condition using topical medication. When you treat the condition, the itching sensation fades on its own.
When you observe other symptoms like hearing loss or pain with itching, then it indicates a more serious problem. So, you need to seek professional help to manage the problem well.
Treatment Options Suggested By Doctors For Itchy Ear Canal
When you experience itching sensation in your ear for more than a few days, consult an ENT. Your doctor can perform the diagnosis to detect the actual problem. Based on the underlying problem, your doctor can suggest the following:
- High body temperature (Fever)
- Pus/blood draining from the ears
At times, the infection can cause inflammation. So, you need to apply steroid topical ointment prescribed by your doctor. The product containing 1% hydrocortisone cream or 0.1% betamethasone cream can offer relief from inflammation.
Soften Dry Skin
Ear lining can become dry leading to an itching sensation. So, your doctor can apply baby oil drops to overcome the dryness.
Professional Ear Wax Cleaning
The accumulation of ear wax can trigger itching inside your ear canal. You must never clean your ear by yourselves as it can result in damaging your ear lining. Schedule appointments with your doctor to clean the ear wax. The use of a specialized tool for cleaning by the experts will minimize the trauma to the ear lining.
Overcoming Swimmer’s Ear
The trapping of moisture inside the ear canal can lead to infection. Therefore, people who are at risk of getting water inside their ears need to use ear drops. The swimmer’s ear drops or a diluted solution of hydrogen peroxide, acetic acid or rubbing alcohol can dry the ear canal.
Always consult your doctor to understand what caused the itchy ear canal. Depending on the issues, you need the appropriate treatment to overcome the problem.
Preventing Itchy Ear Canal
It is possible to prevent itchy ear canal by taking some preventive measures.
Avoid Over cleaning
The basic purpose of earwax is to protect your ears from dryness. It also keeps it waterproof. While you need to remove excess earwax, cleaning it using the following can cause the problem:
- Cotton Swabs
- Cotton Balls
- Bobby Pins
- Paper Clips
You may get temporary relief from itching. But, it makes your ear susceptible to infections as earwax has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. It is better to seek professional help for cleaning the excess wax buildup.
If the beauty products you use or jewelry you wear causes allergy, try to avoid it. Test your makeup products before using it on your face or near your ears. It will help you prevent unnecessary itching. Some people can suffer from metal allergy (nickel allergy) when they use earring. So, try to use anti-allergic jewelry to prevent such allergies that lead to an itching sensation. At times, food items can also trigger an allergic reaction. Therefore, try to include foods in your diet that causes no reaction in your body.
Keep Your Ears Dry
If you like to swim, then you need to find the perfect solution to keep your ear canal dry. The excess moisture content in your ear can lead to bacterial or fungal infection. It can cause an itchy ear canal. Therefore, wear earplugs while swimming. You need to use show caps to protect water from getting into your ears while bathing.
If water enters your ears after bathing or swimming, then try to dry it. Using a hair dryer or rubbing alcohol can keep the ear canal dry. Keeping the ear canal dry can prevent developing infections.
Seek Medical Help To Clean Wax
Earwax buildup can trigger itching inside the ear canal. So, you need to manage the earwax level to prevent complications. You can consult your doctor to keep the earwax production at a normal level. Your doctor can use a specialized tool to remove the excess wax buildup. You can also use the doctor-approved methods like bulb syringe or eardrops to remove the excess wax.
Maintain Caution While Using Hearing Aids/Earphones
Use well-fitting hearing aids. Poorly fitted devices can cause irritation and lead to itching. Therefore, try to use a customized hearing aid that molds your ear properly. While using earphone practice proper hygiene. Else, it can traps moisture in your ear canal. So, you can suffer from an infection.
Treat Skin Diseases
Some skin diseases can contribute to the itching sensation in your ears. So, get treatment for conditions like eczema and psoriasis before it affects the skin lining your ear canal. It will help you prevent the itching sensation inside your ear.
The itchy ear canal is not a dangerous health problem. But, it can trigger severe discomfort. So, you need to take care of it at your home. Certain home remedies can help you overcome the itching sensation. You can also use over-the-counter ear drops to get relief from the problem. But, if the problem persists, then you need to seek medical assistance. In most of the cases, infections can lead to itching in your ear canal. Therefore, treating it with antibiotics can offer you much-needed relief. With professional assistance, you can handle the root cause leading to the problem. You can handle the problem with good home care and medical assistance.
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