There’s nothing quite like itchy ear canals! While grabbing a q-tip might be what you’re itching to do, as audiologists we do not recommend this. Here are a few reasons why your ears might be scratching, as well as some tips and tricks to calm the itch in your ears.
Eczema/psoriasis: If you suffer from either of these conditions, your ear canals may also be affected. The itch might be accompanied by flaking, cracking and dry skin. Both of these conditions are caused from an overactive inflammatory response. Believe it or not, attempting to relieve the itch in your ears through scratching will actually increase the inflammatory reaction and increase the itchy sensation! The take-home message here is to drop the q-tip and step away from your ear canals, and perhaps take a trip to your family doctor. There are ways to treat these skin conditions and your family doctor is a good place to start.
Earwax build-up and Over-cleaning your Ears: Ear wax is a healthy substance in the ear which can protect vital parts of the middle ear from foreign bodies and has anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. Too much ear wax can cause discomfort, pain, temporary hearing loss, and you guessed it, itchy ears. While you might be tempted to go for the q-tip, ear drops from your local hearing clinic or a pharmacy can help break up the wax and help excess ear wax migrate out on its own. You can also schedule a visit to your local audiologist or family doctor for wax removal if the ear wax is excessive or impacted. One thing to keep in mind is that not enough ear wax can also cause itchy ears, so be careful not to go overboard on ear wax removal. In addition to the anti-microbial properties of ear wax, it also serves to ‘waterproof’ and lubricate the canals. Like everything else in life, balance is key and this includes your ear wax.
Allergies/Irritants or Ear Infection: Allergies or ear infections can cause itchy ears. Infections also often come along with other symptoms such as otalgia (ear pain), otorrhea (ear discharge), odor and an ear itch. A visit to your family doctor is your best bet if you have symptoms like the ones above. As audiologists, we hear a lot about people putting different substances in their ears, but this is not recommended. Using harsh creams in your ear canals for dry skin, peroxide or rubbing alcohol to break-up wax, or using fragrant soaps to clean your ears can also irritate your canals and make them itchy. This type of reaction often goes away once the substance which caused the reaction in your ear is removed.
While itchy ears are not dangerous, they can certainly be irritating. If your ears are itchy don’t hesitate to go to your family doctor if you are concerned. If you think ear wax is your problem your local audiologist can help or at the very least steer you in the right direction. Call The Hearing Room if you would like to learn more!
North Oshawa: 905-725-1999