Scratch That Itch: Effective Solutions for Relieving Itchy Ears

Scratch That Itch: Effective Solutions for Relieving Itchy Ears

  • Dec 12, 2023

An itch in your ear is a common and often frustrating experience. You may have tried various remedies to find relief, but have you ever wondered what causes those pesky itchy ears in the first place? In this blog post, we’ll explore the various causes of itchy ears, including earwax, infections, allergies, and more. In addition, we’ll discuss safe cleaning practices, treatment options, and lifestyle adjustments to help you find relief and prevent future itchiness. So, let’s scratch that itch and uncover the secrets behind those annoying itchy ears!


Key Takeaways

  • Identifying the underlying cause of itchy ears is essential to finding an appropriate treatment.
  • Medical treatments, home care remedies and lifestyle adjustments can help relieve and prevent itchy ears.
  • Seek medical advice if any symptoms such as dizziness, hearing loss or tinnitus are present.


Understanding Itchy Ears: Identifying the Causes

Illustration of ear anatomy


Itchy ears can be attributed to a variety of reasons, including:


  • Earwax buildup
  • Outer ear infections
  • Itchy ear canals
  • Water trapped in the ear
  • Certain skin conditions
  • Inner ear issues


Although mild cases of dermatitis might be the most common cause of chronically itchy ears, recognizing the specific cause is key to finding the right treatment.


The Role of Earwax in Itchy Ears

Earwax, also known as cerumen, plays a significant role in maintaining ear health. It serves to trap foreign particles such as bacteria and fungi, while safeguarding the delicate skin lining the ear canal. Ears produce earwax, but excessive amounts can cause ear itching due to trapped bacteria and resulting infections. In some cases, this may lead to an earwax blockage, which can further complicate the situation.


This buildup could be attributed to water retained in the ear or incorrect cleaning methods, such as the insertion of cotton swabs, bobby pins, fingers, or twisted cloth into the ear canal. Using a cotton swab can exacerbate the issue.


When Infections Make Ears Itch

Photo of a person receiving medical treatment for ear infection


Bacterial, viral, and fungal infections are common causes of itchy ears that necessitate medical attention. Ear infections caused by bacteria and viruses can result in itchy ears. One example of an infection that causes itchiness is swimmer’s ear, also known as otitis externa, an infection of the outer ear canal caused by water getting trapped in the ear.


Diabetes has been linked to a decrease in earwax acidity, which makes the ear skin more prone to fungal and bacterial infections. Otomycosis, a fungal infection of the outer ear, is typically associated with Aspergillus and Candida fungi.


Allergies and Their Impact on Your Ears

Allergies, including food, skin, and seasonal allergies, may be responsible for causing itchy ears. Oral allergy syndrome, allergic rhinitis, food allergies, and drug allergies are some of the most common allergies that can cause itchy ears. An allergic reaction to these allergens can result in itchy ears. Antihistamines are an effective way to address itchy ears caused by allergic rhinitis.


If the symptoms do not start to subside with home care, it is best to seek medical help. Delaying such action may worsen the condition and lead to more severe cases. In cases of severe bleeding or drainage from your ears, immediate medical attention is advised.


The Inner Workings: How Ear Anatomy Contributes to Itchiness

Illustration of inner ear anatomy


The structure of the ear significantly influences itchiness. An absence of earwax can result in dry ear skin, given the lubricating function of earwax. Also, the lack of sweat glands in the ear can cause ears itchy, as sweat moisturizes the skin and helps regulate temperature.


Without sweat glands, the skin in the ear can become dry and prone to irritation, thus causing itching. The skin in the ear also serves as a protective barrier and helps shield the underlying structures from external elements, which may contribute to itchiness.


Addressing Itchy Ears: Safe Cleaning Practices

Photo of safe ear cleaning tools


Maintaining good ear hygiene is vital for preventing itching and preserving ear health. Regular practices, such as taking showers and allowing warm water and shampoo to flow over the ears, are sufficient for softening and removing excess earwax. Avoid inserting cotton swabs, bobby pins, or other objects into the ear canal, as they can damage the eardrum, raise infection risks, and cause additional irritation.


When handling hearing aids or similar devices, ensure that your hands are clean and that shampoos and soaps do not come into contact with the ear.


Hearing Aids and Itchy Ears: Finding Comfort

Hearing aid users may experience itchy ears due to the device’s presence in the ear canal. The use of specialized over-the-counter ear drops can help protect the skin, or alternatively, the hearing aid domes can be resized or refit to minimize discomfort. If someone experiences itchy ears due to pressure from the hearing aid, a specialist can remold the hearing aid to ensure a better fit.


To alleviate dryness of the skin in the ears, a product such as MiraCell ProEar may be recommended. Maintaining hearing aids is a key to ensuring proper functioning. Cleaning the devices regularly is therefore essential.


Skin Conditions Within the Ear Canal

Skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and seborrheic dermatitis can also contribute to itchy ears. Applying a few drops of olive oil or baby oil to the ear can help alleviate itchiness associated with skin dryness. Ear drops may provide relief for itchiness caused by eczema or psoriasis.


Another skin condition affecting the ear is aural eczematoid dermatitis, although the underlying cause is currently unknown.


Remedies and Relief: Treating Itchy Ears

Illustration of various treatment options for itchy ears


The appropriate treatment for itchy ears hinges on the root cause, which could entail physician-suggested treatments, home care approaches, or lifestyle modifications to avoid recurring itchiness.


Doctor-Recommended Treatments

Medical treatments for itchy ears include:


  • Over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream
  • Antihistamines
  • Ear drops prescribed by a doctor
  • Antibiotic ointments
  • Steroid ointments to reduce inflammation


A mixture of vinegar and rubbing alcohol may help alleviate itchiness in some cases. For itchy ears caused by excessive earwax, a physician may administer a saline solution into the ear to eliminate the excessive earwax.


Amoxicillin is typically the first-line treatment for ear infections causing itchiness, while other antibiotics may also be prescribed for ear infection, such as Ofloxacin and Fluocinolone acetonide.


Home Care Strategies

To ease itchy ears at home, you can use the following methods:


  1. Use a warm washcloth to gently clean the outer ear and relieve itching.
  2. Apply a few drops of mineral oil, hypoallergenic baby oil, or sweet oil to the affected ear to soothe itchiness.
  3. If there is earwax buildup, you can use a home irrigation kit to flush out the excess wax. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional if you experience any pain, discomfort, or have a history of ear problems.


A mildly acidic solution composed of equal parts rubbing alcohol and vinegar may be effective in relieving itchiness associated with swimmer’s ear, a common issue faced by swimmers.


What to Avoid

When managing itchy ears, you must avoid practices that can exacerbate the condition. Using cotton swabs, bobby pins, or other objects in the ear can increase the risk of infection and cause further irritation. It is also essential to be cautious when utilizing home remedies for itchy ears, as they may cause further damage or irritation to the ear canal.


Excessive use of headphones can also lead to ear itching due to trapped heat, accumulation of sweat, dirt, and debris, as well as irritation from extended use.


Lifestyle Adjustments to Prevent Itchy Ears

To avoid itchy ears, certain lifestyle modifications are necessary. Proper ear hygiene includes cleaning your ears with a washcloth and your finger, avoiding allergy triggers, maintaining an ear-cleaning routine, and selecting hypoallergenic hearing aid materials. Common allergens that can cause itchy ears include beauty products, products containing nickel, and materials like plastic, rubber, or metal in contact with the ears. Identifying and avoiding these allergens can help reduce the risk of itchy ears.


Regular hydration, altering dietary habits, and discontinuing smoking can also contribute to maintaining ear health and preventing itchiness.


Recognizing When to Consult a Professional

You should seek professional advice for itchy ears if other symptoms accompany the itchiness or if it continues. Additionally, severe ear infections that necessitate professional medical assistance may include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, loss of balance, hearing loss, earache, and vertigo. Failure to treat severe itchy ears can result in infections, ear damage, hearing loss, and skin diseases.


If you experience symptoms such as:


  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • loss of balance
  • hearing loss
  • earache
  • vertigo
  • recurring infections
  • fever
  • chills
  • motion sickness
  • tinnitus


It is important to seek medical advice regarding ear problems.



In conclusion, itchy ears can be caused by various factors, including earwax buildup, infections, allergies, and skin conditions. Understanding the causes and taking appropriate measures, such as proper ear hygiene, medical treatments, and lifestyle adjustments, can help you find relief from itchy ears and maintain your ear health. Remember, if your itchy ears persist or are accompanied by other symptoms, consult a healthcare professional to receive the proper care and treatment you deserve.


Frequently Asked Questions


Why are my ears so itchy inside?

Earwax blockages, allergies, contact dermatitis, nervous habits and fungal infections are all possible causes of itchy ears. Over-cleaning the ears can lead to earwax blockages and a range of other issues, while contact with beauty products, earrings, hearing aids and even food allergies can cause irritation. If your ears are persistently itchy, it's best to check with a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.


How can I treat itchy ears?

If your ears are persistently itchy, visit a doctor to determine the cause. Try home remedies such as baby oil or olive oil and OTC eardrops to alleviate the itchiness. If infection is the cause, you may need antibiotics.


Which ear drop is best for ear itching?

Corticosteroid ear drops can help relieve itchy ears without an infection, while antifungal or antibiotic ear drops are needed if there is an infection present.


What is the old saying when your ear itches?

It is said that if your ears itch, someone is talking about you. Likewise, if your left eye is twitching, it is a sign that you will hear something bad.


What are the main causes of itchy ears?

Itchy ears can be caused by earwax buildup, infections, allergies, and skin conditions.