Read below about bilateral ear itch, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your bilateral ear itch from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Bilateral Ear Itch Symptoms

Itching in the ear can be incredibly irritating, especially if there are other symptoms such as pain or drainage. Many people who experience ear itch are tempted to use objects to clean or scratch the inside of the ear, which will ultimately make the symptoms worse. A predisposition to conditions associated with ear itching can occur due to personal activities, such as swimming, or general medical conditions. Fortunately, many causes of ear itch symptoms can be eliminated with appropriate medical treatment.

Symptoms that can be associated with ear itchiness include:

Bilateral Ear Itch Causes Overview

Infectious Ear Itch Causes

  • Acute infection : An infection of the ear canal (otitis externa) can lead to ear itching along with tenderness, discharge, and a feeling of fullness. The infection is usually bacterial but can also be caused by a fungus. Fungal infections are more likely to occur in people with conditions that cause decreased immune system functioning.
  • Chronic infection : The infection is chronic if it lasts for 3 months or longer. Chronic infection may be partially due to an underlying skin or allergic condition.

Medical conditions

  • Skin conditions : Psoriasis and eczema are examples of skin conditions that cause itchiness and irritation and can affect the ear canal. The symptoms of these conditions are caused by chronic inflammation due to immune system activation. Redness and scaling may be present.
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction : The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) allows movements of the jaw, such as chewing food. Problems with this joint can be associated with ear symptoms, including itchiness.

Irritating substances

  • Contact dermatitis : Exposure of the ear canal and outer ear to irritants such as earrings made out of nickel can cause redness and itching.
  • Earwax : A blockage in the ear canal due to earwax can cause ear itch along with other symptoms such as pain, hearing loss, dizziness, and a feeling of fullness in the ear.
  • Foreign object : Ear itch can occur when an object such as a bead is stuck in the ear canal. This is particularly likely to occur in children.

Allergy

  • Allergic rhinitis : A reaction to allergens in the environment can cause ear itch along with other symptoms such as nasal congestion and sneezing.
  • Allergy to ear solutions : The use of solutions such as antibiotic drops can cause an allergic reaction in the ear canal.

8 Potential Bilateral Ear Itch Causes

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.

  1. 1.Common Cold

    The common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract.

    The common cold resolves within 7 to 10 days.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, cough, sore throat, congestion
    Symptoms that never occur with common cold:
    being severely ill, severe muscle aches, rash, severe headache, sinus pain
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  2. 2.Acute Viral Sinusitis

    Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinus spaces behind the nose and cheeks. These spaces produce mucus, which drains into the nose. If the nose is swollen or if the mucus does not drain, this can block the sinuses and cause pain or infection.

    Symptoms should subside within 7-10 days

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    headache, cough, sinusitis symptoms, sore throat, congestion
    Symptoms that always occur with acute viral sinusitis:
    sinusitis symptoms
    Symptoms that never occur with acute viral sinusitis:
    being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  3. 3.Swimmer's Ear (Otitis Externa)

    Swimmer's ear, also known as otitis externa, is inflammation, irritation, or infection of the outer ear and ear canal.

    7-10 days

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fever, ear canal pain, ear fullness/pressure, jaw pain, ear pain that gets worse when moving
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Viral Throat Infection

    Viral pharyngitis is an inflammation of the pharynx, the part of the throat between the nasal cavity and mouth, which causes throat pain.

    Symptoms generally resolve within 3-4 days

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    sore throat, cough, congestion, fever, hoarse voice
    Symptoms that always occur with viral throat infection:
    sore throat
    Symptoms that never occur with viral throat infection:
    being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

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    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having bilateral ear itch.

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  5. 5.Allergic Contact Dermatitis of the Ear

    Allergic contact dermatitis is a condition in which the skin becomes irritated and inflamed following physical contact with an allergen. Common products known to cause allergic dermatitis include plants, metals, soap, fragrance, and cosmetics.

    1-2 days

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    ear itch, ear redness, scabbed area of the ear
    Symptoms that always occur with allergic contact dermatitis of the ear:
    ear redness
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  6. 6.Uterine Fibroids

    Uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors in the uterus. They are common in women of childbearing age.

    Treatment ranges from medication to surgical removal of the fibroid.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    vaginal bleeding, pelvis pain, abdominal cramps (stomach cramps), painful periods, irregular period
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Acute Bacterial Sinusitis

    Acute bacterial sinusitis occurs when the sinuses become infected and, in turn, inflamed, which causes pain and other symptoms. The sinuses are air-filled cavities in the face that are generally clean and empty but when they're sick collect excess mucus and can become infected. When your symptoms are persisting for 10 days or more or are getting worse over time, it's more likely that you'll have a bacterial infection as compared to a viral infection.

    7-15 days

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, cough, sinusitis symptoms, muscle aches
    Symptoms that always occur with acute bacterial sinusitis:
    sinusitis symptoms
    Symptoms that never occur with acute bacterial sinusitis:
    clear runny nose, being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

    Eczema is a form of skin inflammation that causes skin to be dry, itchy, red, and irritated.

    This is a long-term, recurring condition but symptoms are manageable with care.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    trouble sleeping, feeling itchy or tingling all over, dry skin, scalp itchiness, flexor surface rash
    Symptoms that never occur with eczema (atopic dermatitis):
    fever
    Urgency:
    Phone call or in-person visit

Bilateral Ear Itch Treatments and Relief

Most causes of ear itch symptoms are not dangerous. However, a foreign object or signs of severe infection in the ear should be evaluated urgently.

Seek emergency ear itch treatment if:

  • You believe there is an object in the ear, especially an insect. Quick removal will help prevent complications such as infection and damage to the eardrum.
  • You have severe pain, fever above 101 degrees, or decreased ability to move your facial muscles.

In some cases, even though emergency care isn't necessary, you may need evaluation and treatment. Make an appointment with your medical provider if:

  • You are having drainage from the ear.
  • You experience decreased hearing or a ringing sound.
  • You have had itching for more than a few days.
  • Your ear itch and/or accompanying symptoms are severe enough that you have had to miss work or school, or are unable to concentrate on your daily tasks.

Your medical provider may prescribe one or more of the following treatments, depending on the cause of the ear itch symptoms:

  • Antibiotic or antifungal ear drops for an infection.
  • Anti-inflammatory ear drops for allergic and autoimmune conditions.
  • Removal of earwax from the ear canal.
  • Medications to relieve pain associated with ear itch.

Some home treatments may help with ear itch.

  • Stop wearing earrings and avoid beauty products such as hairsprays that could be causing irritation. You can try getting rid of one product at a time in order to figure out which is causing the ear itch symptoms.
  • Several over the counter products can be used for a few days in order to dissolve earwax, which can relieve obstruction and decrease itchiness. These include mineral oil and eardrops such as Debrox. Avoid using cotton swabs, which will just push earwax deeper into the ear canal and maybe harmful.
  • Avoid water exposure and placing objects such as earplugs in the ear until the itchiness has resolved.
  • Over the counter antihistamines like Benadryl (diphenhydramine) can help with allergic symptoms, including ear itch.

FAQs About Bilateral Ear Itch

Here are some frequently asked questions about ear itch.

Can chronic skin conditions cause ear itch?

Yes, chronic skin conditions that affect other parts of the body can also cause symptoms in the ears. The outside of the ear or the canal leading to the eardrum can be impacted. For example, psoriasis can cause a rash on the ear with overlying silver scales, which can be itchy and painful. Multiple other skin conditions can cause ear itch, including eczema, lichen planus, and seborrheic dermatitis.

Can ear itch occur due to allergies?

Yes, allergic conditions can cause ear itch. Allergic rhinitis (called “seasonal allergies” if it only occurs during certain parts of the year) can cause ear itch along with runny nose and itching in other areas such as the mouth and eyes. In addition, an allergy to eardrops, such as antibiotic drops, can develop after they have been used for a significant amount of time. The local allergic reaction to eardrops typically causes an itchy rash.

Why are swimmers prone to having ear itch?

Swimmers are frequently affected by otitis externa (infection of the ear canal). In fact, otitis externa is often called “swimmer’s ear.” This condition occurs because moisture remaining in the ear after swimming creates an ideal environment for bacteria. Along with itching, there may be ear pain, redness, and discharge. Swimmer’s ear can be treated with antibiotic drops.

How can I prevent ear itch?

Avoid earrings made out of nickel, since nickel often causes irritation and itching. A common cause of ear itch is otitis externa, an infection of the outer ear canal. This infection can be avoided by keeping the ears dry. After swimming, dry the outer ear and tilt the head back and forth to get rid of excess moisture. Also avoid sticking cotton swabs or any other object into the ear canal, which can cause injuries that predispose to infection and itching.

What kinds of treatment will help ear itch associated with excess earwax?

Earwax is a normal, healthy part of the ear canal. However, problems including itching and decreased hearing can result when hard earwax builds up and blocks the canal. Your medical provider may use an instrument to pull out earwax or irrigate the canal with water to wash it out. You can also use OTC (over-the-counter) ear solutions such as Debrox at home to dissolve the wax.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Bilateral Ear Itch

  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.Do you have a rash?
  • Q.Are you experiencing a headache?
  • Q.Do you currently smoke?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our bilateral ear itch symptom checker to find out more.

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Bilateral Ear Itch Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced bilateral ear itch have also experienced:

    • 8% Sore Throat
    • 6% Congestion
    • 6% Tickle in Throat
  • People who have experienced bilateral ear itch had symptoms persist for:

    • 32% Over a Month
    • 28% Less Than a Week
    • 23% Less Than a Day
  • People who have experienced bilateral ear itch were most often matched with:

    • 23% Common Cold
    • 17% Swimmer's Ear (Otitis Externa)
    • 5% Acute Viral Sinusitis
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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