Why are my ears itching?

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Itching ears are a common issue that can be irritating but generally not harmful. Typically occurring in the ear canal (the tube connecting the outer ear to the eardrum), it affects people of all ages. Alleviating the itchiness depends on the underlying cause prompting you to scratch. It is advised against inserting any objects into your ears, as this could harm the ear canal, eardrum, or delicate hearing bones. Keep in mind that a healthy ear naturally cleans itself and does not typically need manual or invasive cleaning methods.

7 Causes and home remedies for ear itching

Itchy ears can result from various causes. Here are seven of the most common reasons and remedies:

1. Earwax buildup

The ears produce earwax naturally to maintain cleanliness and protect against infection. However, excessive earwax can cause itching.

Attempting to remove the buildup using cotton swabs or other objects can further irritate the ear and push the wax deeper, potentially leading to blockage and infection. Instead, commercially available ear drops can be used to break up the wax, or a doctor can safely remove the buildup with a specialized tool.

2. Ear infections

Itchy ears may indicate an infection or be an early sign of one. Bacteria and viruses can lead to ear infections, often occurring during colds, the flu, or allergies. Swimmer's ear, caused by water remaining in the ear after swimming, can also cause infections. Treating the infection with prescribed medicated drops or, in some cases, antibiotics can alleviate the itching.

3. Allergies

Why the inside of my ears itch? Allergic reactions can cause the skin inside the ears to itch. Certain foods, beauty products (e.g., hairspray, shampoo), and materials such as nickel or those found in earbuds or hearing aids can trigger allergies. Most cases do not require treatment, but persistent reactions may warrant consultation with a doctor for allergy testing.

4. Skin conditions

Itchy ears can be associated with underlying skin conditions. Some individuals may also notice inflamed, scaly patches around or on the ears. Skin conditions that may cause itching include psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema. Treating the underlying condition can help alleviate the itching.

You can typically address these issues by using topical medications or ear drops. In more severe instances, steroid pills may be necessary.

5. Hearing aids

Hearing aids can sometimes lead to itchy ears due to the plastic coating, which can cause skin sensitivity or a mild allergic reaction. Water getting trapped behind the hearing aid can also cause itchiness. If the pressure from the hearing aid is causing discomfort, a specialist can reshape it or use an antiallergic material for the mold.

6. Allergic rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, can cause itchiness in the ears, eyes, and throat. It is triggered by an allergic reaction to common airborne particles like pollen, dust mites, or animal fur. This condition can also cause watery eyes, a runny nose, headaches, sneezing, and congestion. Itchy ears may also occur due to congestion caused by a common cold, which typically resolves as the cold clears up.

7. Dry ears

Dry ears can result from excessive ear cleaning, which removes the natural oils and earwax responsible for maintaining ear health. Some individuals may naturally produce insufficient ear wax, leading to dry ears. Dry ears can be accompanied by flaky skin around the ear. Treatment for dry ears focuses on relieving itching and restoring moisture balance. Steroid creams or ear drops containing an oily component and an anti-inflammatory steroid can alleviate itching and restore moisture. However, long-term use should be avoided as it can cause thinning and fragility of the skin. Depending on the cause, a doctor may prescribe antifungal eardrops or oral antibiotics.

8. Insect in the ear

If individuals experience persistent itching or discomfort in the ear, it may indicate that a bug has entered. This sensation often leads to rubbing or scratching the affected ear, especially in the case of children. Insects, such as mosquitoes or fleas, are more likely to cause itching when they bite or come into contact with the ear.  The presence of a bug in the ear canal can lead to not only itching but also pain and a feeling of fullness. It is crucial to address these symptoms promptly and seek appropriate methods for insect removal to prevent potential complications.
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Ear candles

Using ear candles is not recommended. Studies have shown that they are ineffective and can even cause harm. These candles are hollow and are inserted into the ear canal before being lit at the exposed end. However, they can cause burns and potentially pierce the inside of the ear.

Why do my ears itch deep inside at night?

Itching symptoms can be worse at night for several reasons:

  • The skin gets drier at night due to moisture loss, making itching worse.
  • Changes in body temperature at night can cause blood vessels to dilate, leading to increased itching.
  • Hormonal changes, like low levels of anti-inflammatory hormones, can also worsen itching.
  • Reduced distractions at night may make itching feel more intense.
  • Some parasites, like scabies mites, are more active at night, causing increased itching.

Itchy throat and ears

The feeling of itchy throat and ears is usually connected to irritation of the mucous membranes in your throat. Even though it might seem like your ears are the source of the itchiness, the underlying cause often originates from throat irritation. Although a cold might not directly impact the inner ear, it can affect the area around the tonsils, leading to the sensation of itchy ears. Particularly in children, and occasionally in adults, an itchy ear might indicate the beginning stages of a middle ear infection. If a child complains of inner ear itching and describes it as originating from inside the ear, it can serve as an important early warning sign. Recognizing these initial symptoms can often help prevent the development of a painful middle ear infection by practicing rest, using nasal spray, and trying out home remedies.

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