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Learn about your ear itch, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your 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.

Ear Itch Checker

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Your Ear Itch May Also be Known as:
Ear canal itchiness
Ear canal itching
Ear canal itchy
Ear canal scratchiness
Ear canal scratching
Ear canal scratchy

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:

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.

Top 2 Ear Itch Causes

  1. 1.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.

    You can safely treat this condition on at home. The main treatment for this disease is to avoid the substance that triggers the skin inflammation. Moisturizer can also be helpful to provide relief for your inflamed skin.

    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

    Ear Itch Checker

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

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  2. 2.Anaphylaxis

    Anaphylaxis is the sudden onset of breathing or heart rate changes that are caused by a whole-body allergic reaction. This can be a deadly situation.

    Call 911 immediately for an ambulance. If you have been prescribed an epinephrine pen, use it. Don't do this if you have never been prescribed one!

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    nausea or vomiting, stomach bloating, headache, abdominal cramps (stomach cramps), being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Emergency medical service

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 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 Ear Itch

  • Q.Is your ear itchiness constant or come-and-go?
  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.Do you have a rash?
  • Q.Do you have a cough?

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

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Ear Itch Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced ear itch have also experienced:

    • 6% Sore Throat
    • 4% Headache
    • 3% Fatigue
  • People who have experienced ear itch had symptoms persist for:

    • 31% Less Than a Week
    • 30% Over a Month
    • 20% Less Than a Day
  • People who have experienced ear itch were most often matched with:

    • 4% Allergic Contact Dermatitis of the Ear

Ear Itch Checker

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

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