Itchy ear canals can happen to anyone, no matter what age you are. It’s important to remember that despite how often your ears itch, it’s never a good idea to stick objects into your ear. Here are some causes of itchy ears and how to properly soothe them.
- Earwax. Our ears create earwax as a way of cleaning dead skin cells and dirt out of our ears. A buildup of wax, however, can cause our ears to itch. Don’t use a cotton swab to remove the wax; this can push the buildup further into your ear. Try using over-the-counter ear drops to help break up the wax. If this doesn’t work, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Don’t obsess over removing wax; however, as it is possible your ears are itching because there isn’t enough wax present.
- Infections. It is possible you have an ear infection and that is why you’re scratching so much. Ear infections are caused by bacteria and viruses, and they usually form during the times when we have a cold, the flu, or when we are struggling with allergies. Swimmer’s ear is an infection that is caused by water that has become trapped in the ears after swimming. Due to having an abundance of moisture, the ear canal’s natural layer of defense against bacteria and viruses wears away. The only solution is to treat the infection. While some disappear on their own, others linger. Your doctor can prescribe ear drops and antibiotics if needed.
- Allergies. If you experience an allergic reaction, your skin will itch. This may be what is affecting your ears. Check your hair spray and shampoo for ingredients that may trigger your allergies. Certain types of jewelry, such as nickel, can also trigger allergies. Other culprits include earbuds and hearing aids, as they can cause dermatitis. Once you determine what is causing the allergy breakout, cease using that product. Until then, your doctor can prescribe a steroid that will help you resist the urge to scratch.
- Eczema or psoriasis. Certain skin conditions can cause ear canals to itch. These can be relieved with ear drops and, in severe cases, steroid medication.
- Cleaning your ears improperly. Remember when we said it was a bad idea to place items into your ear canal? There was a reason for that! Using cotton swabs, bobby pins, paper clips, matchsticks, and your fingers can scratch the surface of the canal, allowing bacteria and other germs to enter easily while also creating an ear infection.
- Certain foods. Those who have hay fever or a pollen allergy can become triggered by certain foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts. Stay away from these foods and talk to your doctor about scheduling an allergy test. This will help determine how severe your allergy is and if you will need to carry an epinephrine auto-injector with you.