Itchy ears – symptoms causes and other risk factors

itchy ear

Itchy ears is a very common condition. For some people this condition is so bad that they stick many different objects into their ears which is causing trauma to their ear canal. The beginning of an infection, fungal infection or a nervous habit is the most common causes for itchy ears [1]. But also there are other causes for this condition such as dermatitis and psoriasis [2]. Also there are some people who have allergies and they have itchy ears. Your ear canal can be normal on examination or there can be scaling on your skin. People can aggravate this condition by using tooth picks, coat hangers and bobby pins to scratch their ears. This can produce abrasions of your ear canal. Any break in your skin can allow the bacteria to enter through this protective barrier. Your ear will become infected and it needs medical treatment. Our ears are fairly small compared to our arms and legs but they are full of sensitive neurological fibers. As a result, our ears are subject to their fair share of itching. There are some people who have chronically itchy ears because their ears are highly sensitive. But also there are other cases in which itchy ears can mean that you have some underlying medical conditions. You should understand the causes of itchy ears and this can help you to find a relief from this condition. People, who have ear itching without infection or trauma, can treat this condition with a mild steroid ear drop. When you put a few drops of it in your ear, then it can help you to decrease the amount of itching. Also when you use 70% alcohol which is known as rubbing alcohol as your ear drop, then this can help you to fight against this condition. But you should know that itchy ears can be the first signal that the infection is developing so in this case (if your ear is infected), then the alcohol will burn. [1]

Symptoms of itchy ears

Itchy ears can feel bothersome and irritating. You may think that scratching will help you. But you should know that you will feel worse when you are scratching them. Infected and itchy ears can be accompanied by:

  • Drainage from the ear
  • Swelling
  • Fever

If you have noticed severe bleeding or drainage from your ears or if you suddenly have hearing loss, then you should seek medical attention. Also if you have noticed that that the itchy ear symptoms are not improving with time or home care, then you need to talk with your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will examine your ears and he or she will take your medical history to indentify the potential causes for this infection. Itchy ears are usually due to a breakdown in ear skin health.

Itchy ears

Causes for itchy ears

Causes for itchy ears: There are many causes for itchy ears and they are including:

  • Psoriasis: This is a skin condition which is a causing a person to develop red rash. This skin condition can happen on visible parts of your body such as inside your ears or arms. [2]
  • Hearing aid use: Hearing aids can cause the water to become trapped in your ears or trigger an allergic reaction to the hearing aid itself. Ill – fitting hearing aids also can put pressure on some areas of your ears which is leading to itching. [3,4]
  • Otitis externa (outer ear infection): Otitis externa which is also known as outer ear infection also can cause ear pain as well as itching. This condition is also swimmer’s ear. It is caused by inflammation which is usually due to infection. This condition can lead to swelling and redness. [5]
  • Ear canal dermatitis: This condition is happening when the skin in and around the ear canal becomes inflamed. Ear canal dermatitis can be the result of an allergic reaction to products in or near our ears such as metal in earrings or personal care products. Aural eczematoid dermatitis is also other type of dermatitis and the cause for this type of dermatitis are not known.
  • Dry skin: When our ears are not producing enough wax, then our ear skin become itchy and dry. It is known that wax has lubricating effects and its absence and it can cause you to experience itching. Also you can notice flaking skin coming from your ear. [5]


[1] Shenoy PK, Paulose KO, Sharma RK. Itchy ear syndrome. Archives of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. 1989;115(1):109.

[2] Hayes K. Listen to your ears. AARP. 2017. Retrieved from

[3] Cui T. When hearing aids cause itchy ears, What can be done? Audiology Online. 2014. Retrieved from

[4] Orji FT, Onyero EO, Agbo CE. The clinical implications of ear canal debris in hearing aid users. Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences. 2014;30(3):483–7.

[5] Djalilian HR. Symptom: Itchy ear. The Hearing Journal. 2014;67(9):8,10,11.


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