Itching Ears

Intense unavoidable itching in ears

Ear itching is a tickling, irritation sensation that occurs due to variety of causes. Sometimes the itch can be so annoying, it can lead to persistent scratching of ear resulting in trauma. It is a very common complaint and majority of reasons are non specific or non serious. It may be accompanied by redness, soreness, flaking, swelling or scarring in the ear. Accompanying infection can lead to fever, swelling, and discharge from the ear. Medical terminology for itch is pruritis. Though scratching can bring temporarily relief, it can lead to further irritation or even infection of the ear. The best way is to refrain from scratching and keep the area dry for healing.

Commonly itch occurs due to fungal infection or the beginning of an infection or as a nervous habit. The most common ear infection called as otitis externa or swimmer’s itch occurs due to the presence of moisture in the ear due to swimming or bath. Other causes can be allergies, trauma, insect bites. Certain skin conditions like psoriasis, dermatitis or eczema can also lead to itchy ear . Chicken pox can also lead to ear itch, commonly occurring in people who have never been vaccinated.

Ear is a very sensitive organ and hence its problems should be handled gently. Itching is due stimulation of nerve endings in skin of ear due to inflammation, foreign body, fungus, excessive wax or no wax. Scratching the ear results in trauma and further itching. It leads to a vicious cycle, more scratching more itching.

Many cases of ear itch usually resolve itself. Problems due to skin conditions are handled with effective ointments, lotions or soothing gels. If treatment is required then careful ear examination should be done to rule out underlying causes of the problem. Ear wax, fungal infection or dryness can easily be controlled. Fungal or bacterial infections require antifungal or antibiotic drops. Steroid ointments also help in reducing the inflammation.

Baby oil, vinegar, olive oil or alcohol rubbing are few home remedies that can help in relieving the itchy sensation. When itchy ear is due to allergic reaction then the inducing factor should be avoided e.g. metal earrings, beauty products, food etc. Use of Q tips should be avoided and if necessitates regular ear cleaning appointments should be done with a doctor to remove excess wax without causing trauma to ears.

Unwanted objects or insects shouldn’t be handled by amateur hands and visit to a doctor should be made immediately.  Excessive earwax production should be managed by doctor approved ear drops and removal by bulb syringing done in doctors clinic. Though ear itch is not a serious and threatening condition, it is important to determine the underlying cause in order to rule out a serious infection or allergic reaction.