Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.
What are itchy ears?
This is mostly a symptom of a medical condition and not a medical condition in itself. It is an irritating, tickling sensation that just makes you want to persistently scratch your ears.
When a person has itchy ears it could be a sign of an abnormal accumulation of earwax, it could be a sign of an ear infection, etc. Itchy ears can happen to anyone regardless of age, sex, race, or gender. The medical terminology for itchy ears is pruitus.
Symptoms of Itchy ears
In addition to itchy there can also be other symptoms but what they would be depends on what is causing the itchy ears.
Some of the localized symptoms that could occur with itchy ears may include:
- Flaking or crusting skin.
- Discharge or drainage from your ear.
- Having a rash.
- Swelling, redness, or warmth.
- Pain or tenderness.
You may also have symptoms that are related to other body systems in addition to itchy ears that may include:
- Having a cough
- Chills and fever
- Having a headache
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Runny nose
- Having a sore throat
Itchy ears Causes
There can be a variety of causes for a person having itchy ears. Some of these causes may include:
- Having a decrease or increase in the amount of earwax. If you are a swimmer you may have itchy ears because your ears are not producing enough earwax.
- It could be caused by skin problems such as psoriasis, eczema, or seborrheic dermatitis.
- You could be scratching the ears frequently and causing damage to the inner lining of your ear. This can make it sensitive and more prone to ear infections such as otitis externa, which is also known as swimmers ear.
- If you have itching inside your ear canal it could be because of a fungal infection that has developed because of being constantly exposed to water. This is a common reason for itchy ears for swimmers.
- A person may be allergic to dust particles or sensitive to hair spray or certain shampoos can develop itchy ears.
- You could also get itchy ears because of a bug flying into your ear and getting stuck in your ear canal and cannot get back out.
- A major problem that causes itchy ears is constantly scratching your ears because the more you scratch the itchier your ears get.
- Allergic reactions to certain foods, industrial chemicals such as the ones found in latex, rubber, or elastic, poison oak or ivy, bites or stings, or metals that are used in jewelry.
- Itchy ears can also be caused by infections such as chickenpox, strep throat, or ringworm.
- Itchy ears can also be caused by extreme heat or cold, stress, and some medications.
Before any treatment can be started it is important that your physician find out what the cause is so the proper treatment can be done. There are also home treatments that you can use to help relieve itchy ears but before trying them you should talk to your physician.
It the cause of your itchy ears is a bug you can try to remove it yourself by putting some warm water in your ear to get it to come out but it is advisable to see your physician or go to the emergency room to have a professional remove it. By letting a professional remove it they will make sure they get it all out so it does not cause any further problems.
If your itchy ears are caused by a skin condition you should see an Ear, Nose, and Throat physician. They can prescribe a corticosteroid ear medication to be used daily to help relieve itchy ears. If the cause is swimmer’s ear you have bacteria growing in your inner ear because of water that is trapped there. For this you can take over-the-counter medications to help dry out your ears or you can get a prescription from your physician for ear drops. For itchy ears that are caused by allergies, whether environmental or seasonal, you can take over-the-counter allergy medicine like Zyrtec, Claritin, or Benadryl.
- Make sure that you completely dry your ears after taking a shower or bath.
- Crush some garlic cloves in olive oil, boil, and let cool. Put a few drops in your ear to help get rid of any infections that is causing your itchy ears.
- You can combine equal parts of rubbing alcohol and vinegar in a bowl and put a few drops in the ear that is affected to get relief instantly.
- If you are a swimmer or just constantly exposed to water, you can put a heating pad over your ears to help avoid any fungal infections.
- Make sure that you keep your ears dry if you are constantly exposed to water. You can also use antifungal medication to help prevent any infections.