What is itchy ear canal ?
The ear is composed of numerous nerve fibers and any stimulus which stimulates the nerve endings can cause itching sensation in the ear. Sometimes itchy ear is an indication of underlying medical cause. Usually this may chronic problem for some individual, as the ear is filled with dry skin and that can aggravate in fungal infection or others associated causes. It is very important to determine the cause of itchy ear canal and accordingly treat them. (1,2)
The different possible causes, which provide itchy ear canal are as follows:
Inside the ear waxy substance is secreted, which helps to hold the moisture content and provide lubricating action. If dryness develops inside the ear canal and prevent the secretion of wax, then it causes flaking skin and itching develops.
If the surrounding skin of the ear is swollen up, may be due to allergy from metal accessories (ear ring) or cosmetic products or due to aural (ear) skin infection including eczematoid dermatitis.
Ear Infection (Otitis Media)
Any infection in the middle ear can cause pain and itching sensation. Swimmers often get infected and face this problem and associated symptoms include redness and swelling of the ear.
Using of hearing aid
Some individual get allergy due to using of hearing aids, and this device also causes lodging of water inside the ear, both the condition is causing the itchy ear canal. Unfitted hearing aid device can produce unequal pressure generated inside the ear canal and cause itching.
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A typical symptom of psoriasis is red rashes on the skin. Usually psoriasis prominently appears on the expose skin, but if it develops inside the ear, it can cause itching in the ear canal.
The ear is closely attached with the respiratory system and any allergy affects the nose or throat, including allergic rhinitis, asthma, or other allergy issues can cause itching in the ear. It has been also seen that otitis externa (Read Otitis Media) is also associated with these allergic reactions. Entrance of any foreign body like ear medication, ear plugs, shampoo and even sweating can cause ear itching.
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Improper bathing, swimming often cause water accumulation in the ear cavity and cause ear infection. Excessive sweating is also producing the same effect. Even swimming in the unclean water can also cause itching in the ear due to infection. The excessive moisture can wash out earwax and indirectly cause dryness in the ear and itching.
Other included factors are extreme cold or hot weather, stress and certain medications can cause itchy ear canal. Atypical underlying serious health issue like anaphylactic shock can also cause of itchy ear, so it is advisable to consult with an ENT specialist to rule out the underlying cause. (2,3,4,5)
Entering of any foreign object for scratching the ear is strictly avoidable. Indeed, following measures are helpful to reduce the itchy ear canal, if the underlying cause is not a serious health issue. The treatment is usually divided into two ways:
- Natural therapy
- Synthetic medications
Natural therapy/ Home Remedies
Some homemade measures prepared from natural ingredients can helpful to reduce the ear itching.
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Warm oil drop
Now a days olive oil is very frequently obtainable at home due to its great medicinal value. Coconut oil is also available in our home, as a hair oil and in some states it is used as edible oil.
Equal quantity of both the oil mix together and add some crush garlic bulb, then boil it for few minutes and then cool the mixture of oil in room temperature and fill it in a container. Then, in a pot take hot water and immerse the container for a certain period and wait for some time to warm the oil.
Before administering the drop into the ear, check the temperature to avoid burning or any injury to the ear canal and then with the help of dropper put the oil inside the ear canal.
In Ayurvedic shop, ready-made oil is available to avoid these hassles. Olive oil and garlic have antifungal and antibacterial property, whereas coconut oil helps to maintain the moisture content of the ear canal and prevent the dryness.
Water- alcohol mixture
This mixture is applied to wash out the debris from the ear canal. This also used for removing any bug. For this mix small quantity of water and alcohol and by using the syringe fill up the ear canal and after one minutes drain the mixture from the ear canal.
The aim of the treatment is to provide relieve from itching and subside the underlying infection.
Doctors can prescribe steroid ear drops to treat inflammation inside the ear canal and reduce the itching.
Topical or oral antibiotics are given to treat the bacterial infection, if the underlying infection is due to bacterial attack.
If the cause of the infection is due to invading of fungus, then antifungal treatment is the best possible treatment to reduce the infection and associated symptoms, including itchy ear canal. (2,3,4,5,6)
- Online Ear Disease Photo Book; Chapter 15 – Miscellaneous; Itchy Ears; Retrieve from: https://med.uth.edu/orl/online-ear-disease/chapter-15-miscellaneous/itchy-ears/
- Rachel Nall, George Krucik, (2014); What causes itchy ear? 5 possible conditions; Healthline; Retrieve from: http://www.healthline.com/symptom/itchy-ear
- How to Treat an Itchy Ear Canal; Retrieve from: http://hubpages.com/health/Itchy-Ear-Canal
- Timothy C. Hain, (2003); Dry and/Or Itchy Ears; Retrieve from: http://www.dizziness-and-balance.com/disorders/symptoms/dry%20ears.htm
- Itchy Ear Canal; MDhealth.com; Retrieve from: http://www.md-health.com/Itchy-Ear-Canal.html
- Sarah Harding (2011); Remedies for Inner Ear Itching; Retrieve from: http://www.livestrong.com/article/146111-remedies-for-inner-ear-itching/