An itchy inner ear is quite common and is rarely cause for concern. There are many underlying conditions including swimming, allergies, bugs and etc. Read this article to know the possible causes of this discomfort as well as safe methods of managing that will provide adequate relief.
Causes of Itchy Inner Ear
1. Too Much or Not Enough Ear Wax
Excessive wax in the ear can cause the skin to become irritated and itchy if the offending wax is not removed. Alternatively, if the skin inside the ear fails to produce an adequate amount of wax it increases the risk that the ear will become irritated and dry. Swimmers frequently suffer from an inadequate supply of ear wax.
2. Regular Swim
Those that swim regularly are often exposed to fungus or germs that can spread infection to the ear. This risk is increased if the skin inside the ear is damaged or broken. Those that regularly swim are also at a higher risk for developing eczema.
3. Finger Tips or Cotton Buds
Inserting cotton buds in the ear or attempting to remove wax with the fingers can damage the skin inside the ear, increasing your risk of developing a bacterial infection.
4. Cleaning Products
Products such as shampoo, bubble bath, hair dye, hair styling gel or shower gels can make their way into the ear during a shower or bath, causing the area to become itchy.
5. Hot or Humid Climate
Those that live in humid or hot climates have a higher risk of developing fungal infections as spores thrive in these conditions.
Seasonal allergies can cause the ear to become itchy and irritated due to the histamine release that follows the exposure to offending substances. This is often accompanied by watery or itchy eyes.
7. Fungal Infections
Those prone to fungal infections in other areas of the body such as the groin or feet can easily spread this infection to the inner ear as well. People who often expose their ears in water tend to have itchy inner ear. The enclosed, moist conditions of the inner ear are ideal for fungal growth.
8. Skin Conditions
Conditions such as psoriasis or eczema that affect other areas of the body may also irritate the skin on the inner ear.
In some cases bugs may make their way into the ear while you sleep and find themselves unable to escape. In this case you may notice unusual sensations in the ear or a buzzing noise as the bug attempts to move around the ear canal.
Home Remedies for Itchy Inner Ear
1. Apply Oil Drops
Applying warm oils such as olive, mineral or vegetable oil to the ear can help to relieve itching. Warm the oil by setting the container in a glass of warm water for 15-20 minutes and test the oil on your wrist before placing drops in the ear to ensure they will not burn the sensitive tissue. You can also visit your doctor for a prescription for wax softening drops that can be used sparingly if this method is ineffective.
2. Soften Ear Wax
Instead of attempting to place a foreign object in the ear to remove wax, apply a warm washcloth or water bottle to the outside of the ear to soften hard wax inside. When the wax becomes visible in the ear, gently use a cotton swab to wipe it away. Do not place the cotton swab inside the ear canal as this can push wax and any present bacteria down into the ear.
3. Use Rubbing Alcohol
A mixture of rubbing alcohol and water can be applied to the ear using an ear or bulb syringe. This can help to flush out bugs or debris that may be causing irritation in the ear. After the solution is applied the syringe can be used to help remove the liquid from the ear. Lie on your side after this treatment to allow any excess fluid to drain out.
4. Get a Peroxide Rinse
Place a small amount of peroxide in the ear and tilt the head to the side to help remove excess ear wax. Be sure to use a hair dryer on the ear for 30-60 seconds after this treatment to remove any excess peroxide remaining in the ear. Otherwise this solution may provide a breeding ground for bacteria. A cotton swab can be used to collect the peroxide as it runs out of the ear, but do not attempt to stick the swab or your hands into the ear canal as this will push the substance further into the ear.
Medical Treatments for Itchy Inner Ear
In some cases irritation of the ear canal will resolve itself. If treatment is necessary, your doctor can examine the ear to determine the underlying cause of your discomfort. They can take a sample from inside the ear to check for fungus and prescribe ear drops to clear away the offending infectious materials. Ear drops often contain antibiotics or antifungal ingredients and hydrocortisone to help reduce swelling and itching.
Preventions for Itchy Inner Ear
- Preventive steps are essential to avoiding itching and discomfort in the ear canal.
- Wearing a swim cap or ear plugs when swimming or in the shower can help to keep excess moisture out of the ear canal. Using a hair dryer on the ear for a few seconds after washing or swimming can help to dry out any excess moisture. Keep the dryer on a low setting and do not apply it for more than 60 seconds to prevent overheating the ear.
- Place a cotton ball or ear plugs in the ears during a bubble bath or shower to help avoid getting excess moisture or bathing products in the ears.
- Work to keep irritants such as shower gel, hairspray, shampoo or bubble bath out of the ear.
- Avoid known allergens such as pollen or dust and use antihistamines to minimize allergy symptoms that can irritate the ears.
- Make sure the ears are dry before inserting items such as headphones, a hearing aid or earplugs. Avoid wearing these items if possible when the ear canal is infected.
- Do not place any foreign objects or your hands into the ear canal for any reason. This can cause a great deal of irritation that may increase itchiness.