Why Do My Ears Itch? And How to Stop It

There are few things worse than itchy ears! When your nose itches, you can give it a good scratching and deal with the itch once and for all. But it’s never that easy with an itchy ear. Your fingers just aren’t made to get into your ear and scratch that annoying little itch. It can drive you CRAZY!

On this page, we’re going to answer all of your itchy ear questions, including:

  • Why do my ears itch?
  • What causes itchy ears? Is it something I’m doing?
  • Are itchy ears a sign of a more serious problem?
  • What can I do to stop ears from itching?
  • How can I treat my ears and prevent itches in the future?

By the time you reach the end, you’ll know everything there is to know about the causes of itchy ears and what to do for itchy ears.

First up, we take a look at the reason behind the itch…


What Causes Itchy Ears?

An “itch” is simply your nerve endings responding to an external stimulus. In fact, it’s similar to your body’s pain response; the main difference is that you get the desire to scratch an itch, while pain causes you to flinch or move away from the stimulus.

The ear is an incredibly delicate mechanism designed to detect and amplify vibrations in the air- also known as sounds. The ear is filled with nerve endings, making it one of the most sensitive parts of your body. It’s no surprise, then, that your ear is one of the places most prone to itching!

If you’re wondering, “Why do my ears itch?”, here are a few of the most common causes of itchy ears:

Dry Skin

When your ears don’t produce the right amount of ear wax, the skin in your ear canal is unprotected. This can lead to dry skin in your ear canal.

Dry skin can be VERY itchy, especially if/when it starts to flake. A lack of ear wax may be the reason you have an itchy inner ear.

Ear Infection

Otitis media and otitis externa (swimmer’s ear) are two common ear infections that may be the cause of your itchy ears. Bacteria can burrow into the sensitive skin of your ear canal, triggering an infection that leads to swelling, redness, pain, and itching.

The itch of an ear infection often outweighs the pain BY FAR!

Psoriasis

This skin condition affects roughly 3% of the world’s population, with 150,000 new cases in the U.S. alone every year. A red rash develops, leading to skin flaking and itching.

It’s not the most common cause of itchy ears, but those who suffer from psoriasis may notice that their ears are itchy as a result of a rash in their ears.

Ear Canal Dermatitis

This is basically an infection of the skin in or around the ear canals. The skin will become red and swollen, and the result is severe itching.

Dermatitis may be the result of an allergic reaction (to metal earrings, beauty products in the ear, etc.), or it may be aural eczematoid dermatitis – a form of dermatitis with no known cause.

Bugs 

This is a highly uncommon cause, but it has been known to happen. If a bug travels into your ear or ears while you sleep, it may get trapped by the ear wax.

The bug’s presence can cause irritation, itching, and even a buzzing sound as it tries to leave. It’s not the most common cause of an itchy ear canal, but it’s worth ruling out.

Injuries  

When your ear itches, you may be tempted to insert a cotton swab, bobby pin, fingertip, or car key into the itchy ear canal. DON’T!

This can scratch the skin, leading to an infection that will only make the ear worse. Your itching problem may be the result of a scratch you caused by inserting something into your ear.

Hearing Aids

When you use a hearing aid, it may cause water to get trapped inside the ear canal. This can increase your risk of bacterial or fungal infection. Your ears may suffer from an allergic reaction to the hearing aid, leading to swelling and a rash.

If the hearing aid isn’t properly fitted to your ears, it can place pressure on the ear canal, leading to damage of the skin and itching.

These are all things that can cause itchy ears, but before you schedule an appointment with your ear doctor, think about what you’ve done to care for your ears recently. Chances are, the itching is caused by a lack of wax, inserting the wrong thing into your ear, or some minor skin irritation. A few home remedies (as you’ll see below) will clear the problem up.

RELATED:  Hearing Loss in Children and How it Impacts Language Development

However, if the problem persists, it’s a good idea to get checked out. The last thing you want is for the sensitive mechanism of your ear to be damaged!


What to Do for Itchy Ears

So, you know why your ears are itching, but what now? What should you do about the problem?

Don’t worry! We’ve got a few awesome home remedies for itchy ears to help you deal with the itch once and for all. Try these out:

  • Lotion

If dry ears are the cause of the itch, a bit of lotion can help to moisturize the skin and prevent it from flaking and itching. Soothing gel also does the trick – just make sure that it’s formulated for use in your ears.

  • OTC ear drops

Every pharmacy (and most supermarket) will carry medicated ear drops that will help to deal with minor infections and irritations. If the itch is the result of an allergy or environmental cause, the ear drops can deal with the problem.

  • Oil

Warm up some olive or vegetable oil and place a few drops into your ear. This will help to moisturize/hydrate the skin of your ear canal, and it can reduce the irritation of a rash or infection.

  • Hydrogen peroxide

If your itch is the result of an infection, hydrogen peroxide will be a good way to get rid of the bacteria or fungi causing the problem. Pour a few drops into your ear and let it bubble away. If you notice pain or discomfort, it may be a sign of infection.

  • Water and alcohol

Dilute rubbing alcohol with warm water, and use a soft syringe to squeeze a few drops into your ear. The mixture will kill any bugs, flush out debris, and get rid of any bacteria that could cause infections.

These simple remedies will be a good itchy ear treatment for minor irritations, but they aren’t the solution to more serious problems. If the itch persists after a few applications of these remedies, DO NOT continue treating it at home.

Get to the doctor and get your ear checked out! It will ensure that you can catch problems early on and prevent them from developing complications or worsening into more serious, widespread infections.

RELATED:  Hearing Loss Facts and Resources

Depending on the cause of the itchy ear, your doctor may recommend:

  • Antibiotic ointment

This will work to deal with bacterial and fungal infections, including swimmer’s ear, dermatitis of the ear canal, and otitis media.

  • Baby oil

This may be recommended if your itching is caused by dry skin. Baby oil is highly effective as a moisturizer, and it can deal with the dry, flaking skin that is driving you crazy.

  • Medicated eardrops

If the infection (such as swimmer’s ear) is more serious, stronger medications may be necessary. Prescription medicated eardrops (like Ofloxacin, Ciprofloxacin, and Dexamethasone) will eradicate the bacteria or fungi causing the infection effectively.

These may be recommended if there is severe swelling in the ear.

  • Steroidal topical ointment

This will help to reduce inflammation in the ear canal, thanks to the hydrocortisone or betamethasone in the cream.

  • Antibiotics

If you have a fever or there is severe swelling, bleeding, or draining pus from the ear, the doctor may prescribe stronger antibiotics. The antibiotics are meant to reduce infection and clear up whatever is causing the itching.

ALWAYS visit your doctor at the first sign of serious infection: swelling, redness, pain, and heat. If the itch worsens, it could be an indication that something serious is wrong. Your ear is a delicate mechanism, and it’s vital to get any problems treated in order to keep it in good working order.


How to Prevent Itchy Ears

Did you know that a few simple habits and lifestyle changes can help to prevent itchy ears? You won’t need medication if you can prevent the itching in the first place.

1. NEVER insert anything

Yes, it feels wonderful to scratch or clean your ears with a car key, bobby pin, cotton swab, or pen, but that increases the risk of injury.

Avoid inserting objects into your ear, and use your finger (with your fingernails trimmed) to scratch any itches.

2. Use anti-allergenic jewelry  

Make sure that your jewelry isn’t causing allergic reactions by using gold, platinum, silver, titanium, or palladium earrings.

3. Use a cotton ball

When bathing, swimming, or taking a shower, place cotton balls in your ears. This will stop water, soap, and shampoo from entering your ear canals, reducing your risk of infections.

4. Clean your ears  

A good cleaning may be all you need to deal with a bad itch. Excessive ear wax can make your ears itch like crazy, so getting rid of it will help to reduce your risk of infection and clogs.

5. Wait until your ears are dry

Let your ears air dry before you insert your hearing aid. If there is still water inside your ear canal, the hearing aid will keep it trapped – increasing the chance of developing an infection or causing irritation.

6. Avoid irritants

If your shampoo, soap, conditioner, skin lotion, or bubble bath gel is causing irritation of your ear canal, avoid them like the plague! Use only products that will NOT irritate the sensitive skin in your ear.

7. Reduce exposure to allergens

Close your windows to keep out dust, pollen, insects, and anything that could cause irritation to your ears. If you suffer from allergies, use antihistamines to keep them under control.

Follow this advice, and you’ll be able to prevent ear irritations and infections. Healthy ears are far less likely to develop an itch that will drive you crazy!

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“But what about excessive ear wax?” you may ask.

“When I get a buildup of wax, it itches like crazy! If I can’t clean my ears with a cotton swab, what can I do?”

Simple: use the Oto-Tip! This ear-cleaning device is designed to remove excessive ear wax easily and safely. The soft tip will clean out the wax without scratching the sensitive skin of your ear canal.

It will help you prevent itching, ear clogs, and blockage, but in an easy, safe way!

19 thoughts on “Why Do My Ears Itch? And How to Stop It

  • This is the fitting blog for anyone who needs to search out out about this topic. You realize so much its virtually hard to argue with you (not that I actually would want…HaHa). You undoubtedly put a brand new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Nice stuff, just great!

  • None of these suggestion, tips or doctor visits solves my itchy ears. The doctors said they don’t know why they itch. One told me to put alcohol in them and that’s a temporary solution. It gets me 24 hours of less itch. Rx steroid and hydrocortisone cream gives me maybe 2 days. It use to be longer, but not anymore. I’ve used everything and nothing cures this. I’m 54 and I have not nor do I have skin problems anywhere in my body, yet I have had this issue since my mid teens. At night, it can get really bad when it flares up, so I get up and cool it with alcohol. They seem to alternate. Someone said that perhaps I am “Itching to get out of hEAR”. That is very much true:^)

    • I had same symptoms & itchy ears for 5+years! I cured myself in 2 days, works great.
      watch how here: youtu.be/LcsEcE6_0pY

    • Hi Boots, I am in the same boat really. I suffer from Bruxism and tmjd. I read at one time that these issues might have a role in itchy ears – irritation of nerve endings etc. I’ve had itchy ears for many years – they itch on and off. Doctors haven’t been much help.

  • I can identify with you completely. Ive had this unrelenting, Insatiable itch for about 7 years in both my ears and it can just drive me absolutely batty at times. I’ve tried an oil I got from an hearing aid clinic that really helped. I’m now using a cortisone itch cream about every other day. I’m know your not suppose to use Q-tips but there’s just no other way to gently apply the cream. There could be many reasons for ear itch and mine may possibly due to nerve damage of my spine. One day I googled ‘can nerve damage cause ear itch’ and it sure can, it is very interesting reading, I would have never thought that, I was just desperate to see what else could cause this itch. Plus I started to get this feeling that something was trying to crawl out of my ear and it didn’t feel small, that’s when I got creative and started to search, talk about a wicket feeling. I do though have a rare spinal disorder, that not many doctors are too familiar with. Although I found a website called NORD (National Organization for Rare Diisorders) and it explained a lot of issues I’ve had for years now. I have numerous Tarlov cysts all up and down my spine, they are filled with spinal fluid and are connected to the nerve root sheaths and have nerve fibers in them also. I’ve had my ears examined by an ear, nose, throat specialist and they found nothing. I am 61 and the only good part of that visit was I have the hearing of a 16 year old, well thank you very much but that doesn’t help me a bit. This is my experience and it might not be close to what your dealing with, but be assured my friend I have profound sympathy for you. Who would think ear itch could make you feel bonkers at times. Hope you find relief, and happy trails to you 🙂 Sharon

    • COMPLETE CURE TO TINNITUS: I had tinnitus in both ears for fifteen years with a high pitched two tone sound, the noises are constant and have learned to ignore the ringing. Later, another sound was added, a deep tone that has a sporadic rhythm, that mimics human speech. It varies from soft and muted, to painfully clear, and loud. Have try sound machines, ear plugs, my hearing aid, and medication all to no avail rather I have a difficult time sleeping. Lately I was directed to a Doctor called William on internet who provided solution to the problem. Do not be discourage, there is hope for you, it is a permanent cure to Tinnitus. Contact him with this email (okijaherbalhome@gmail.com //

  • I had severely itchy ears for more than 30 years. Finally I spoke to my doctor about it and she ordered some meds–but those didn’t help. As an RN, I thought it through and realized that I have never seen ear wax in or around my ears in decades. With that in mind I purchased an OTC ear wax removal aid made of 100% olive oil. With a cotton tipped swab I dabbed this onto the outer ear canal each morning and did not give up. After about 10 days the itch went away! A month later when the area started itching again, I just used the olive oil in the outer ear canal for a few days and the itch went away again. My suggestion for people with dry ear canals is to try this completely safe non-toxic product and to keep using it 1-2 times per day for at least two weeks. Don’t expect an instant miracle cure or give up too soon.

  • My ears itch is so severely that scratching them till they bleed often times leaving huge scabs in them. It’s frustrating and embarrassing. Thank you for all the advice I will try them, and I pray something works.

    • I did tried olive oil extra virgin for weeks… did not work for me. I did try almost all homemade-granma-remedies… did not work! Itchy crises was driving me creazy!
      Finally get completely cured in 2 days by just inserting leaves of a special natural med-plant in my ear. Sounds just like a miracle to me! Mr.Francois, in France, Dordogne, discovered this fantastic treatment. Hope it will works for all of you as well. You can contact Francois directly, he will send it to you free of charges after reviewing your case: Is email francois3@neuf.fr or you can watch here: https://youtu.be/LcsEcE6_0pY

    • Hello Deb,
      I don’t know ehre you are leaving… i’m in France ( french native speaker…) … your feelings just like same i was before… I had creazy itchy ear crises for many years!
      Francois, in Dordogne ( France ) cured me in 2 days! sounds like a miracle! You should definitely get in touch with him ( his email: francois3@neuf.fr ). I know his send his medicinal-plant-preparation all over in the world for such cases! Even for free !
      Hope you can get cured like I did! you can watch his own story here: https://youtu.be/LcsEcE6_0pY I did try almost all internet and grandma-remedy included above comment with olive-extra-virgin-organic-cold-pressure-oil but nothing at all works!
      Only the medicinal-plant-preparation of Francois did really cured me in 2 days, Just amazing! I could not believe it after so many years of a calvaire with itchy ears driving me creazy!

    • Hi Deb
      I had the same problem. Here is what I tried and it works. Look on internet for Aboriginal Gold soap and aboriginal Gold skin comforting cream. I I borrowed some from my sister a few years ago and I thought it might help my ear itching which was driving me bonkers. The soap is about $10 a bar and cream about $30 for a 2.5 oz tube but lasts a long time. Also if you ever get a burn around the stove the pain goes away when you apply the cream. I usually never write on blogs but wanted to get this on the net. Good luck. My ears NEVER rich now!! Glen

  • I have found the book, “The Fungus Link” by Doug Kaufmann, to have very good diet suggestions to various types of itching. It includes many problems and natural suggestions for relief. The food suggestions are very good for all people to maintain good common health.

  • I have had itching in both ears for five years now. I went to hospital and was told by a cruel doctor that itching of the ear is not a serious case to visit the hospital so I left in anger and went to a pharmacy where Candibiotic ear drop was recommended and when ever i drop it for like three days the itchy will go away for months. I have never tried to use constantly for at least one week as i was told to do cos once i drop it for two days and the itchy goes i will forget that i have to use it as it is the itchy that reminds me to use it. It does work alot and i suggest you look for it.

  • I have had itchy ears for 3 yes.I think it has something to do with the high humidity in Florida.it is driving me crazy and maybe I am allergic to Florida.

  • I had this issue up all night going nuts with itch. Trips to pcps er etc being treated with drops and oral antibiotics made me very sick and didnt help. Finally I went to ear nose throat and in one appt the dr fixed it. She vacuumed my ears out and put a powdered med in my ear. After not being able to hear and itching pain for months I was better in less than an hour. Go see an otolaryngologist if you are up itching all night. They are the only ppl that can make it stop. I let pcps and ppl tell me it was no big deal until i had irritated it into a major infection until i literally had ears full of blisters. If I had known there was help sooner i would of avoided trying all these homemade cures that only made my suffering worse.

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