Itchy Ears


What causes an itchy ear canal?

Various causes can be at the root of itchy ears. While in most cases, the itching isn't caused by anything serious; in some instances, it can indicate a medical condition. Take the time to become familiar with the possible causes, so that you can find the right solution for your trouble.

Ear Infections

Itchy ears can be a symptom of an ear infection. Depending on the type of pathogen that causes the infection, ear infections can be bacterial, viral, or fungal. Otitis externa or outer ear infection is one of the most common forms, and it causes significant ear pain as well as itching in the ear canal. This condition is also known as swimmer's ear. It can happen when water gets trapped in your ear canal after swimming.

Otitis media impacts your middle ears and causes similar symptoms to otitis externa. Children suffer from this the most, because of frequent colds and blocked Eustachian tubes.

With fungal infections, the itching tends to be more intense. Aside from that, it's quite difficult to tell which type of ear infection you are dealing with. Doctors often start by prescribing an antibiotic, and if the treatment fails, then they assume that the infection may be fungal.

Wax Buildup

Your earwax (cerumen) plays numerous important roles. One of its many functions is to moisturize the skin on the inner surface of the ear canal. It also acts as a shield between the eardrum and the outside world. Earwax traps dead skin and dirt and carries them out through the outer ear. As they say, however, too much of anything can be bad. This statement applies to earwax as well, as too much of it can be the reason for your itch.
If you struggle with earwax buildup, try to resist the urge to remove the buildup with an ear swab. Sticking any object in your ear canal, including Q-tips, is a bad idea. All that you'll accomplish is pushing the wax deeper inside, where it can get stuck. Over-the-counter ear drops that loosen up the wax are a much better option. Be careful not to remove too much of the wax because not enough of it can cause you to have dry ears and end up causing them to itch.


An allergic reaction can also cause the inside of your ears to itch. Personal care products, such as shampoo, body wash, are often the culprit. If you listen to music a lot, be sure not to wear your earbuds for hours at a time. Earbuds and earplugs introduce bacteria and dirt into your ear canal, cause itching ears and may even lead to infections.

If you suspect that an allergy may be at the source of your itch, find out what the trigger is, and stop using it immediately to get relief.

Hearing aids, and nickel earrings have also been linked to itchy ears. The trouble with hearing aids is their plastic coating. If you have sensitive skin, you may develop an allergic reaction to the material. If you wear hearing aids, you may also experience itching ears if water gets trapped behind the hearing aid.

If your hearing aid is the reason for your itchy ears, a hearing care professional or an audiologist can help you find a solution. Please contact 20dB Digisound near you to schedule an appointment and let one of our professionals help you.

Eczema and Psoriasis

Eczema can develop anywhere on the body. When ear eczema appears without any obvious trigger, the condition is called aural eczematoid dermatitis. If you have psoriasis, you are also much more prone to this skin condition. One of the hallmark symptoms of ear eczema is itchiness in or around your ear.

Food Allergies

2.5 million Canadians suffer from food allergies. When you are allergic to a particular food, exposure to it will trigger an unhealthy immune response. If you have hay fever or pollen allergy, you may develop a condition called oral allergy syndrome. This form of allergy can prevent you from eating certain fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts. If you suffer from the syndrome, your ears may itch when you do eat them. Other symptoms of the syndrome are an itchy, tingly, scratchy or swollen mouth, tongue, throat among many others. As soon as you swallow the food, the itching sensation should stop. If your food allergy is severe, you may need to carry an Epi-Pen.

Improper Ear Cleaning

Although you may be tempted at times to clean your ear cavity with cotton swabs, doing so can cause inflammation in your ear canal and leave you itching. You should never stick anything into your ear canal, but instead, follow proper ear cleaning techniques.

What are the symptoms of itchy ears?

Admittedly, resisting the temptation to try to scratch the itch in your ear is difficult. But remember, scratching will probably make things even worse. The symptoms of itchy ears can be various, depending on the underlying cause. If your ear is infected, in addition to the ear itching, you may develop a fever, ear swelling, and even drainage.

How Can I Treat My Itchy Ear?

In most cases, home remedies are sufficient to relieve the itching. It is, however, crucial to figure out the source of the problem. The type of remedy you should use depends on the cause of the itching. Capsaicin-based creams are used frequently. Capsaicin is the same ingredient that you find in chili peppers. Use the cream with caution when using capsaicin topically on open wounds or sunburned, windburned, dry, chapped, or irritated skin.

Nature too offers effective remedies. If your ear problem is due to dryness, you can apply a few drops of olive oil into the ear canal to restore its natural pH and moisturize it. Instead of olive oil, you can try aloe vera.

If your itching is caused by an allergic reaction, staying away from the irritant is your best bet. You may need to swap your earring or shampoo with a more natural alternative.

If you have an ear infection, your doctor may recommend an antibiotic or a prescription eardrop to treat the infection. Once your infection is gone, your itching should resolve as well.

As you can see, itchy ears can be a sign of different problems. Before placing any drops or ointments into your ears, be sure to get a proper diagnosis by a doctor.