Itchy Ears

What causes itchy ears?

Question:

Many things, including infection, trauma, or allergy, can produce itchy ears. Often it's seborrheic dermatitis (similar to dandruff), which may be caused by dry, flaky earwax, irritation from chemicals in hair products, or excessive ear cleaning.

Since there are many possible culprits, if the itchiness persists, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. Several kinds of over-the-counter ear drops, as well as prescription drops, are available. If you have pain or fever, do not use drops without first consulting your doctor. You may have a perforated eardrum or a serious infection. For dermatitis, you can use a cream or ointment on the external part of the ear.

One common cause of itching is "swimmer's ear," which occurs when water gets trapped in the ear, allowing bacteria or fungi to grow. If your ear begins to itch after swimming (particularly in a lake) or even showering, keep the affected ear dry. You can buy antiseptic ear drops at drugstores. This restores the natural acid balance of the ear canal, helps dry it out, and kills bacteria. Put one or two drops in each ear with a medicine dropper for two or three minutes, then tilt your head and let them drain out. Repeat three times daily.

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