What are the causes of an itchy ear? Does it mean it is infected? Itchy inner or outer ear is a common problem for many people. It is a bothersome condition that can lead to sticking objects in your ear leading to a more severe condition. Common causes are fungal infections, nervous disorder or other skin conditions.
Learn more about itchy ears meaning, why it happens night, causes, symptoms, superstition, treatments and remedies to eliminate this itchiness.
What does itchy ear means?
When we talk of itchy ears, we simply mean the uncomfortable tingling, prickling, tickling or irritating sensation that may influence an individual to want to scratch it. Most commonly, the itchiness occurs on the outer part (pinna and ear canal). However the same problem can also be experienced in the middle part (eardrums, tympanic cavity, and ossicles) and inner ear (cochlea, auditory tube and oval window).
This condition can be mild, moderate, severe or chronic. It can affect one ear or both. It also affects both children and adults. Sometimes this condition may be only occurring at night or get aggravated at night.
What are the main causes
Itchy ears have several causes. Though most of the causes are usually mild, some causes may be very serious. Such serious causes may lead to serious symptoms that may need a prompt intervention of doctors or medical professionals.
In cases of deep ear itch, proper and right diagnosis and treatments are necessary. So in this section, we are going to discuss the everyday causes of itching on the outer, middle and inner ear.
This is a skin condition that is usually characterized by red flaky, crusty patches on the skin. The patches are covered by silvery scales. When this condition occurs in the ears, it can lead to itchiness. It commonly affects the outer section.
Although there are no specific treatments for psoriasis, it can be managed through the application of medications especially the corticosteroids, phototherapy, and vitamin D supplements but when severe, stronger medications can be used.
Allergies to certain foods, medications, pollen, pet dander, insect bites, body care products, cleaning products etc. can trigger an allergic reaction in various parts of the body including the ear. Allergies normally cause sudden and extreme itchiness. Remember sudden and extreme itchiness can also be symptoms of anaphylaxis
To be very clear, allergies usually is common in the middle part i.e. “allergies primarily affect the middle ear” [Allergyasc.com]. Some of the symptoms that may indicate allergic reaction include puffy eyes, runny nose, swollen face, sneezing, nose rubbing, stuffed nose and this itchiness.
The condition can also be triggered by other conditions affecting other parts of the body i.e. allergic rhinitis or hay fever which affect the nose.
Remedies for allergic reactions including identifying your allergens and trying to avoid them. Other treatments involving antihistamines can also be very helpful.
3). Too little or excess earwax (itchy earwax)
Having the right amount of earwax is just very important as it helps one to avoid conditions such as discomfort or itchiness.
Too little earwax may make them become dry and irritated leading to them itching. On the other hand, production of excess earwax is just another problem. Excess amounts will definitely block your ear leading to accumulation of dead hair, bugs or other debris in your canal. This will influence your canal to itch and may lead to impairments in hearing.
When you develop a clogged ear, don’t dare to unblock it using foreign instrument instead, you can use a solvent fashioned to soften the earwax and then wipe it out. If this procedure is not effective, please proceed to your medical service provider.
4). Malignant Otitis Externa Or Swimmer`s Ear
Otitis externa or what is usually called swimmer`s ear is a common infection of the inner ear but can also spread to the outer one as well as jawline and the face. This condition or infection is called at times malignant otitis externa.
To be clear, malignant otitis externa is not due to water remaining but it is rather caused by bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa that may be found the water remaining in the ear.
Some of the conditions or factors that can lead to this condition include diabetes, HIV/AIDs, chemotherapy treatments and compromised immune system. Below are the common symptoms of the malignant otitis externa:
- Chronic itchiness in the canal
- Foul-smelling yellow or green drainage
- Impaired hearing
- Ear pain especially when you move your head
- Weakness in your facial muscles
- Loss of voice etc.
It is advisable to see your doctor as soon as you see the above symptoms since early treatment will really help to stop the spread of this infection.
5). Dry ear/Hot and Humid climate
Apart from medical conditions, this problem can generally be due to staying in hot and humid climate or if you don’t moisturize your ear skin after swimming and after a bath. This will make this skin to become dry and itchy.
So make sure you always moisturize the external part of your with good moisturizers. For the inner ears, find out the best ear drop for itching to heal this problem.
6). Regular use hearing aids
Regular use of hearing aids or ill-fitting hearing aids can lead to moisture being trapped in the ears. In another case, the skin around this area may be allergic to the material used to make the hearing aid and this can lead to itchiness too.
7). Otitis media
This is a condition that leads to inflammation, ear pain, and itchy middle ear just behind the eardrum. Doctors say that this condition is more prevalent among children and can lead to symptoms such as reduced eating, irritable sleep, fever or pulling of the pinna of children.
Just to jog your mind, the middle part is connected to the upper respiratory tract through Eustachian tube. When this tube is clogged or doesn’t function properly there may be bacterial or viral infections. This conditions can lead to very dreadful symptoms that can be life-threatening. Chronic itching and ear drainage may manifest that the Eustachian tube is blocked, therefore, you should call for medical intervention.
8). Excessive swimming
Excess moisture in the inside of the ear due to regular swimming can just a problem. Regular swimming may lead to accumulation of water. Such waters can contain bacteria and fungi which will initiate infections. The condition can be very severe when the skin becomes damaged.
While swimming makes sure you use earplugs or swimming caps to prevent water entering inside it. After shower or swimming, you can use, cool blow dryer to expel water from your canal.
According to Webmd.com, “dermatitis simply means skin inflammation, but it embraces a range of ailments. In most people, the early stages of dermatitis are characterized by red, dry, and itchy skin.”
This medical condition can lead to more serious cases which may involve crusty scales and blisters that ooze fluid. Let us now look at some of the common types of dermatitis that can lead to very itchy ears:
a. Contact dermatitis
This includes allergic contact dermatitis and irritant contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis always is characterized by a pinkish or red rash. Actually, they are a response to what comes in to contact with your skin i.e. the allergen and irritating substances. All these can lead to itching especially the outer ear.
b. Atopic Dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis or eczema is another common type of dermatitis that can cause this problem. The common symptoms include itchiness, scaling, swelling as well as blisters. This condition can also be influenced by genetics as well, therefore can trend in many families. Eczema is linked to allergies, genetics, asthma, and stress among other potential causes.
c. Seborrheic dermatitis
This another potential cause of itchiness behind the ear. It is usually accompanied by scaly crust and itching that develops on the front and behind your pinna.
10). Itchiness due to ear piercing
Piercing is another factor among the possible itchy earlobes causes. When the piercings are healing, they may feel a little bit itchy. Some piercing can also get infected leading to severe itching. In addition, the material used in making the earing can also cause itching in the earlobe.
11). Other Causes
Apart from the mentioned causes, there are some other factors that can also contribute to the same. They include:
- Fungal Infection or candida
- Inserting objects can damage the skin leading to ear infections
- Regular application of products such bubble bath, hair dye, shampoo, hairspray or shower gel can lead to this condition
Symptoms and signs
The symptoms of itchy ears will solely depend on various causes. Some symptoms may just be mild while others can be very severe. Some symptoms may have gradual onset while others may occur all over sudden.
This condition may have vast symptoms but some of the common symptoms include scaling, flaking, tenderness, swelling, crusting, sore, throat, common cold flu, and coughing, reddening, development of rash, ear drainage among other symptoms.
Itchiness on the inner, middle and outer ear
It is good to acknowledge that all the three parts are prone to itching but the outer is at the highest risk. The severity may increase as the itchiness location varies from the outer to the inner ear. But look, this does not mean that cases on the outer ear are always mild, they can too be severe depending on the primary causes.
The outer one itchiness is always influenced by general skin conditions but with the inner, the most common trigger include bacterial infection and the blockage of the Eustachian tube.
Itchiness behind the ears
If you are having itchiness in this area, be sure that this condition can be due to a number of causes. These can be ranging from infections to allergies. Though some of the causes we have mentioned above can also affect this area, there are some specific factors that greatly influence the occurrences of itchiness behind the ears than other parts. They include:
- Seborrheic Dermatitis
- Head lice
- Hair care products
- Bug bites
Treatments of the itchiness in this area may be less challenging than treating itchy inner parts, but still knowing the cause will make treatment easier.
Itchiness at night
Itchy ears during night time may be due to already mentioned causes but there are some factors which are closely related to this condition and we wish to let you know. In a medical context, normally itchiness tend to worsen at night, but why? Because there are potential triggers that have high chances at this time of time of the day. Here are they:
- Insect bites in bed
- Taking bathe using harsh soaps at night
- Itchiness due to dehydrations caused by alcohol and many people do drink in the evening
- When your body comes in contact with allergen i.e. certain foods, silky beddings, certain drugs taken at night
- Accumulations of stress which normally affect people in the evening
So it is clear that during night time, we usually engage in many activities that are likely to cause itching at night that in the morning or day time.
Myths and superstitions– Good and bad omen
Various myths or superstitions revolve around itchy ears. For instance, some people do believe that when it happens, then someone might be talking about you somewhere. Itchy left or right ear can also have specific meaning i.e. itchy left ear may mean that somebody somewhere loves you or somebody is talking good about while itchy right ear may mean the opposite
What we should therefore learn is that there are more several myths and superstitions concerning this itching problem that would vary from one society to the other. Many of such myths hold no water and are just old women tales that should be not be believed in. The truth about this problem well framed in the medical context just as we had discussed earlier in this article.
When thinking about ear itching treatments, there is a certain crucial question you have to answer: what are the causes for my itchy ear? An answer to this question will help you to apply the best treatment. Again, the level of severity will also determine the course of your treatment.
The most common procedures for treating, healing, relieving or curing include the following:
- Antibiotics for itching due to bacterial infection. Antibiotic can be in the form of creams or Lotions. They can be applied topically but oral antibiotics can be taken for severe cases.
- Antifungals to prevent cases due to fungal infections
- Antihistamines can also be used for allergies treatment
- Itchy or swimmer’s ear drops can also be used to soften the wax to make them easily removable
- Hydrogen Peroxides can also be used to soften the wax hence being part of the best cure for itchy ears due to wax accumulation
- Water and alcohol solution can be applied to using the ear syringe to kill the bugs and flush out the debris.
Depending on the status of itchiness at hand, the doctor may prescribe more strong treatments depending on the seriousness of the symptoms you have.
Home remedies are also another option for itchiness relief. They are very effective for mild itchiness especially those occurring on the outer ear. Here the most effective home remedies for you:
A. Aloe vera
Aloe vera is another product among the products that perform wonders as far as the issue is concerned. It helps in balancing the body pH, calming and soothing the inflammation or swelling. You can extract a gel from the aloe plant and drop it in the ears using a syringe. In addition, give it some time to perform its work.
B). Warm Oil
Warm oil droplets are among the most well-known home remedies for itchy ears. There are vast varieties of oils that can be selected to treat this condition. Here are just examples of oils that can be used:
- Olive oil
- Coconut Oil
- Tea Tree Oil
- Garlic Oil
Upon selecting your favorite oil from the above list, you can then proceed by warming it to use it on your ear. Make sure you test the temperature before you drop the oils in your ear. Hot oil can burn damage your eardrum and burn you leading to more serious conditions.
Distilled vinegar is another amazing product for itchy skin on your ears. Mix it with rubbing alcohol to form a complete solution. Use a syringe or dropper to apply some drops. This offers a greater relief and cleansing. Alternatively, apple cider vinegar can be used instead of vinegar.
How to prevent itchiness?
It is true that preventing itchy ears can be cheaper than treating the resultant symptoms related to this puzzling condition. And again, though some triggers can be avoided, you must understand that all triggers cannot be prevented. So here, were are going to provide some of the best techniques that can be used to avoid or prevent one from suffering this problem.
- Always dry extra water in your ear with fashioned solutions
- Refrain from cleaning them using balls, cotton swabs, bobbin pins or other foreign objects
- Clean them always and make sure you frequently dry and moisturize them
- During piercings, make sure the jewelry you use are non-allergens
- If you overproduce or produce little wax, make sure you see your doctor for possible intervention
- Identify your allergens and irritants and try to reduce your exposure to them
- After swimming or bathing, only wear hearing aids after your ears have dried
When to consult a doctor
After trying to stop itchy ears may be by using over the counter treatments and homes remedies and the symptoms still persist (or grow from mild to worse i.e. accompanied by swelling, fainting, vomiting, itchy throat and ear, and difficulty in breathing), then please see your doctor as soon as possible since this is a medical emergency!