Ear dermatitis

What is ear dermatitis?

Ear dermatitis is a skin irritation that can present itself in different ways. There is contact dermatitis as well as eczema of the ear. In some cases, the dermatitis is the result of an allergic reaction to external triggering agents. In others, eczematous dermatitis occurs spontaneously, particularly among subjects affected by disorders similar to dermatitis, such as seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis.

Inner ear dermatitis (Eczema in ear canal)

In the ears, dermatitis can be located in different regions: the outer, middle or inner ear. It is likely that the inner ear area, the deepest area that includes the vestibular system and cochlea, is also affected.

Symptoms

Symptoms of inner ear dermatitis include a localised itching sensation. Other symptoms that may accompany this discomfort include:

redness or irritation,

tinnitus,

pain and swelling in the ear,

the presence of scabs and lesions.

Causes

The causes of inner ear dermatitis can be pathological or non-pathological in nature, affecting only the ear or involving the entire body. The most common causes are:

  • particular inflammations caused by otitis,
  • infections caused by funghi (such as mycosis),
  • the presence of earwax or irritations caused by external bodies, often a result of prolonged use of earphones or incorrect use of cotton buds.

Outer ear dermatitis

Dermatitis of the external ear is an inflammation of the skin of the ear canals.  It can manifest itself either on the lobe or the pinna, both internally or in the area behind it. In the case of contact dermatitis, it can be trigger due to exposure to allergens, or in the case of eczematoid ear dermatitis, it can appear sporadically. 

Symptoms

There are a few tell-tale symptoms that can help you easily identify dermatitis of the external ear. Dermatitis manifests itself through:

  • itching,
  • burning and swelling,
  • redness,
  • hypersensitivity,
  • secretions
  • in some cases, epidermal desquamation.

Causes

Allergic reactions from contact with certain objects, such as earrings, headphones and hearing aids, are among the most common causes of dermatitis of the outer ear. Dermatitis can also occur as a result of:

  • the use of perfumes, soaps and chemicals, such as hair dyes,
  • food allergies,
  • infections or insect bites,
  • reaction to stress, smog or humidity.
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The different types of ear dermatitis

There are several types of ear dermatitis:

  • Contact dermatitis: an allergic reaction to certain materials (nickel in earrings, plastics in earphones or chemicals in beauty products). 
  • Eczematous dermatitis: an inflammation that causes the formation of oily yellow scales. This is a common condition among those who suffer from psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis:
  • Dermaphthytosis: a fungal infection caused by fungi.

How to treat ear dermatitis?

Treatments for ear dermatitis vary according to its severity. In the case of contact dermatitis, it is necessary to identify and eliminate the allergic triggering agents. To reduce swelling and itching, corticosteroid-based creams are beneficial. However, to treat eczematous dermatitis, doctors prescribe drops of a diluted solution of aluminum acetate to be placed in the ear.

Medicines

Corticosteroid-based creams, such as hydrocortisone or betamethasone, are among the most effective medicine to treat ear dermatitis as they help reduce the swelling and itching caused by dermatitis. In addition, in the case of eczematous dermatitis of the ear, it is advisable to use a diluted solution of aluminum acetate (Burow's solution) as instructed by your doctor.

Natural remedies

To alleviate itching, natural remedies can be useful. This includes substances without dyes or fragrances, such as Aloe vera gel, or a paste based on zinc oxide and water. Creams based on Ribes nigrum, a natural antihistamine, also help relieve the discomfort caused by allergic reactions.
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