Itchy Ear

Eight Major Causes of Itchy Ear

Many people get used to digging their ears when they have itchy ear, thinking it is caused by earwax accumulation, but in fact there are many reasons for ear itching. If the cause is not found out and the right medicine is prescribed, excessive ear digging will cause serious consequences.

We sort out the 8 major causes of itchy ears for you, and provide corresponding solutions, so that you can correctly solve the problem of itchy ears.


Eight Major Causes of Itchy Ear


1. Excessive cleaning

A small amount of earwax is actually good for you. Earwax is a natural cleanser that travels from the inside out of the ear canal, collecting dead skin cells, hair and dirt along the way.

Earwax usually drains on its own, so frequent cleaning is not necessary, especially with cotton swabs. Cotton swabs can push the wax deeper into the ear, where it can block the ear. Usually the best way is not to dig the ear, just drip some water into the ear and let the earwax flow out.

The benefits of proper amount of earwax:


    1. Protective
      The oiliness of earwax repels water and forms a protective layer.
    2. Moisturizing
      Prevents the skin inside the ear from becoming too dry.
    3. Antibacterial properties
      Experiments point to earwax having antibacterial and antifungal properties.
    4. Cleansing
      Wax travels from the inside of the ear canal outward, collecting dead skin cells, hair and dirt along the way.

If there is too much earwax blocking the inner ear, resulting in inflammation or hard of hearing, you can go to the otolaryngology clinic for assistance in cleaning or prescribing medicines.


2. Ear Infection


Itchy ears are one of the signs of infection, usually caused by bacteria and viruses during colds, flu, or allergies, and are often seen in people who swim because swimming pool water stays in the ear and causes infection.

Symptoms of an ear infection:


    1. Otorrhea (continuous accumulation or discharge of abnormal fluid in the outer ear canal)
    2. Neck, face, or head pain
    3. Inflammation around the ears
    4. Ear blockage
    5. Hearing loss
    6. Itchy ears
    7. Earache


Itchy Ear
Woman putting a finger into her ear


3. Food allergy

Food allergies can also cause itchy face, ears, and even hives. Common food allergies include nuts, milk, seafood, wheat, and soy. If you have difficulty breathing after eating or contacting allergens, please seek medical attention immediately at a clinic or family medicine department. The doctor will give oral steroids or inject epinephrine depending on the symptoms.

Symptoms of a food allergy:


    1. Swollen tongue
    2. Difficulty breathing
    3. Itchy skin
    4. Sneeze
    5. Runny nose
    6. Hives
    7. Vomit
    8. Diarrhea


4. Allergic rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is caused by inhaling allergens, most of which come from pollen, also known as hay fever, that is, an allergic reaction to pollen in the air, dust mites or animal fur, which can cause itchy ears, eyes and throat.

Symptoms of allergic rhinitis:


    1. Itchy, red, watery eyes
    2. Itchy ears
    3. Itchy throat
    4. Runny nose
    5. Sneeze
    6. Headache
    7. Stuffy nose


5. Ear fungus or Otomycosis

Otomycosis, also known as “mycotic otitis externa”, accounts for about 25% of otitis externa. The climate in Taiwan is humid, and ears are prone to become hotbeds of mold.

Mycotic otitis externa is more likely to occur in patients who like to dig their ears, have low immunity, chronic otitis media, and patients who have long-term topical antibiotics or steroids for otitis externa.

Symptoms of Otomycosis:


    1. Ear blockage
    2. Itchy ears
    3. Earache
    4. Hearing loss
    5. Otorrhea
    6. Ear swelling


6.Chronic otitis externa

Chronic otitis externa is mostly the long-term result of acute otitis externa that has not yet recovered. The main symptom of chronic otitis externa is ear itching. If you suffer from eczema at the same time, the degree of itching will be aggravated. Especially when you suffer from eczema, the degree of itching will intensify. As for the cause of eczema, it is usually caused by excessive ear digging, or infection and inflammation caused by prolonged use of ear canal earphones.

Symptoms of chronic otitis externa:


    1. Congestion or thickening of the skin in the ear canal
    2. Ear canal abscess
    3. Itchy ears
    4. Earache
    5. Eczema


7. Otitis media

Colds can also cause itchy ears! Cold germs can sometimes travel to the middle ear through the eustachian tube, causing middle ear inflammation, especially in children. Symptoms include ear itching, ear pain, and empyema, as well as the following symptoms. If the symptoms match, it is recommended to see a doctor as soon as possible to avoid affecting hearing.

Symptoms of otitis media:


    1. Swollen ears
    2. Hearing loss
    3. Itchy ears
    4. Earache
    5. Tinnitus
    6. Fever
    7. Dizziness
    8. Nystagmus


8.Nervous ear itching

People with high stress and nervousness need to pay attention! Dysautonomia can also cause itchy ears. Although the appearance of the ear is normal, the itching is unusually strong, and it is a periodic itching, but there is no hearing impairment or pain.

If tinnitus or dizziness often occurs, you can go to the otolaryngology department first; if the cause is not clear, you can seek consultation from the neurology department.


Related Topics

5 Major Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of Otitis Externa



Ears, nose and throat – NHS

Hearing, Ear Infections, and Deafness – NIH

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