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Facts about itchy ears

When the outer ear, inner ear or ear canals are itching

About possible causes & treatment methods of itching ears and ear canals

In this article, learn everything about itchy ears: the causes behind itchy ears and how to best relieve an itch depending on the cause. If you have any further questions about your hearing health, you can get a consultation at an Amplifon centre near you.

What exactly are itchy ears?

Itchy ears are a sensation of tickling and / or irritation accompanied by an urgent need to scratch the affected area. This area is often characterized by the presence of redness, if the cause of itchy ears is an inflammation, or desquamation, if its due to an eczema. In any case, it is advisable to avoid scratching the itchy area and it is best to let it heal spontaneously or by contacting your doctor for further tests.

Possible Causes – Why are my ears itchy?

Constant itching in the ear is not normal. Healthy ears itch very rarely. If you ears are constantly itchy, it is best to get them checked. But first, it is best to identify the exact where the ear itches:

  1. If it itches deep inside the ear, its an itchy inner ear;
  2. If it itches inside, but not very deeply, it's more like an itchy ear canal;
  3. If it itches on the outside, its an an itchy pinna or itchy outter ear.

If itching in the ear lasts longer, the cause should be investigated. Frequent causes are bacterial infections, usually in the form of an ear canal infection or a skin disease such as psoriasis, a skin fungus or neurodermatitis. Depending on the disease, ear drops or skin ointments help against the itching.

When it is itchy inside the ear

The cause of the feeling that the inner ear itches, is usually associated with irritation of the mucous membranes in the throat. It feels like your ears are itching. A cold, whether you can feel it or not, does not affect the inner ear, but it does affect the pharynx around the tonsils. Nevertheless, the impression that is created is that the ears itch when you have a cold.

Particularly in children but sometiems also adults, the first sign of a middle ear infection is an itchy ear. So if the child asks, "Why does my ear itch?" and describes that the ears itch from the inside, that can be a valuable clue. If these first warning signs are perceived, a painful middle ear infection can often still be prevented with rest, nasal spray and home remedies.

When the ears are itching outside

Some people scratch their ears frequently. Often this is a habit that is not based on an itch at all. Perhaps it is done so you can concentrate better or because you don't know where to put your hands in an uncomfortable situation. However, if it itches in the outer ear and around the ear, this may also be due to skin diseases such as psoriasis, neurodermatitis or a skin fungus.

Such skin diseases are more common around the scalp. It is also possible that the skin is only affected by too much hygiene: If you constantly use care products to clean your face, you can destroy the healthy protective layer of the skin. This results in itching.

When the ear canals are itchy

If the ear is itchy and the itch is in the front part of the ear, an ear canal infection is a particularly common cause. Inflammation of the ear canal (otitis externa) only affects the part of the ear in front of the eardrum. Bacteria are to blame for the infection. If these have attacked the skin, fungi can also spread.

An allergy as a possible cause

An ear canal inflammation can also result from an allergic reaction of the skin in the ear: shampoos, hair sprays, but also antibiotic ear drops are often to blame. Change your care products. Do you notice itchy ears with hay fever? Then the allergy is probably the reason. However, if the itchy ears are accompanied by hearing loss, pain and possibly even fever, you should see a doctor.

Can hearing aids cause an allergy?
An itchy ear may also be associated with an intolerance or allergic reaction to a hearing aid. You can find more information about allergic reactions to hearing aids in our article: Hearing aids & allergies.

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Treatment – ​​How to stop itchy ears?

What to do with itchy ears? This will depend on the cause of the itch:

  • If the skin on the outside of your ears is itchy, you can try a skin ointment. Ask your doctor and pharmacist. Strong moisturizing, light cortisone ointments or creams against skin fungus can help.
  • If there is an allergy: there are ear drops against itching for allergy patients with different combinations of active ingredients. Ask the pharmacist for advice!
  • If there is an ear canal infection: Ear ointments for itching and ear drops, both sometimes with antibiotics, are typically prescribed for an ear canal infection. However, antibiotics only make sense if there is a strong bacterial infestation. In milder cases, home remedies can also help.
  • If the ear itches from the inside: There is often an inflammation of the mucous membrane in the throat. Throat drops and nasal spray can help treate viruses in the nose and throat area.

This should be avoided

Very important: No matter how tormenting the itching in your ears may be, you should never put sharp objects in your ears. Not only that the eardrum could be injured: the skin in the ear canal can be easily scratched. Since an infection by bacteria is often the reason for the itchy ears, the germs then have an even easier time penetrating the skin.

But cotton swabs should also stay outside. With them you unintentionally push the earwax deeper into the ear. This can result in unpleasant and sometimes painful plugs.

Home remedies

As described above, cleaning too often and improper ear care can lead to itchy ears. In this case, the home remedy is to clean your ears properly and not too often. Read more about the topic: cleaning ears properly. Is the itching in the ear inside the ear canal?

The home remedy: Place a piece of cotton soaked in alcohol in the auricle. A cold pack wrapped in a cloth can also be placed on the ear. If the skin on and around the ear seems to be dry, rubbing it with olive or almond oil will help.

When should I see a doctor?

Constant itching in the ear is not only nerve-wracking, it could also be caused by an illness. So if you have the impression that your ear is constantly itching over a long period of time, go to an ear, nose and throat doctor. The doctor can use an otoscopy to determine the cause of the itching. The same goes for pain, of course. You shouldn't wait too long, especially when the symptom arises in children. 

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