How Do I Treat Dry Skin in the Ears?

C. Daw

Dry skin in the ears can be caused by many different factors, including too much wax within the ears, or not enough because they are cleaned more often than they should be. Outside sources, such as a change in weather or humidity, can also cause dryness or cause it to become worse. There are various ways to treat this problem, including using medication that can be purchased over the counter or by prescription, and trying home remedies that have been shown to work in some cases. No matter what the cause, basic steps can be taken that will usually eliminate the dryness. If not, a medical professional will need to be consulted in order to isolate the problem and obtain a working solution.

Petroleum jelly can help with dry skin in the ears.
Petroleum jelly can help with dry skin in the ears.

A lack of oil or wax is a common cause of dry skin in the ears. This can either be a hereditary issue, or it can be because the ears are being cleaned too often. The natural oils, as well as the ear wax, keep the area moist and prevent the ears from drying out. If dry skin appears because of one of these two factors, either olive or another vegetable oil can be put into the ears with a small dropper or syringe. Rub the ear after the oil has been inserted into the canal, and then wipe the excess off from around the are to prevent it from building up on the outer portions and the surrounding skin and hair.

The ears are prone to dry skin.
The ears are prone to dry skin.

If the skin problem is caused by an outside factor, such as the weather, common lotions can be used. Petroleum jelly rubbed into the ears will also help the problem. Of course, these products should not be placed into the canal, but used to remove the dryness along the inner and outer portions of the ear. If these basic solutions do not work, then stronger over-the-counter medications can be used that contain chemicals designed to relieve dryness and add moisture to the skin.

If home remedies do not solve dry ear skin issues, a doctor should be consulted.
If home remedies do not solve dry ear skin issues, a doctor should be consulted.

If home remedies and over-the-counter salves do not work, then a medical provider should be consulted. Various different medical conditions can cause dry skin in the ears, and if basic remedies do not work, then it is likely that there may be another problem.

Used carefully, some over the counter (OTC) creams may help alleviate dry skin in and around the ears.
Used carefully, some over the counter (OTC) creams may help alleviate dry skin in and around the ears.
Cleaning the ears too often may result in dry skin.
Cleaning the ears too often may result in dry skin.
Use of a washcloth can help remove dry skin from ears.
Use of a washcloth can help remove dry skin from ears.

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Discussion Comments


My dry ears started about six months ago. At first, I tried various creams and ointments such as LOTIL. They only kept the dryness at bay for a few hours.

My wife suggested that I try almond oil. I now paint the inside of my ears using a cotton wool bud and almond oil every morning. The dryness has almost disappeared and the itchy, stinging sensations have been lessened to such a degree that I hardly notice them. Thank god for a sensible wife.


I've had dry flaky skin inside my ear for a few months now. My ear doesn't hurt or bleed. It just has that annoying dry skin accumulating. I first used olive oil and vaseline but it didn't help. Then I used hydrocortisone cream inside the ear. That temporarily reduced it but it keeps coming back if I don't use the cream for a few days. It's inside the ear where one puts a q-tip to clean the ear. Can someone help? What should I do?


I too suffered from dry ear skin in an around the ear for the last two years. I met with few doctors who told me it's either from showering too much or overusing q-tips. They recommended I do not use q-tips and use fine layer of moisturizer in and around my ears. I did so and nothing changed.

I did not have dry ear issues prior to me moving into a new house. So I thought maybe the culprit is the hard water at the new house. One day I noticed I'm out of my expensive doctor recommended antiperspirant and deodorant I've come to like and use and went to the store to buy some. They were out of the brand I use (shall remain nameless). So I went without deodorant for three days and voila! No more dry ears or dry skin around my ears!

I thought to myself, this makes sense. Antiperspirant is supposed to keep my armpits dry but it dried up more than my armpits I guess. This worked for me and could be why others have dry ears. I found out many people have dry ears when I was researching the cause for mine but then again many people also use antiperspirant. Go without one for few days and see if it helps you.


Can anyone recommend a shampoo for very dry flaky skin in and around the ears? I have tried several but been told to use a soapless shampoo but I can't find one.


An ear has a''mind of its own.'' When the skin dries,don't scratch it off. If it hurts and you can't do anything at all (and I don't recommend this) use a bandage against the dry skin and pull it off. Otherwise try to change your shampoo and/or conditioner.

Sometimes your ear is just shedding skin,and this is good, because your ear will be baby-oil smooth afterwards. Be careful with oils you put in your ear, though. Hope I helped.


My dad has very dry ears and I put baby oil in his ears and Vaseline, but it has not made a very big difference. I really wish I did not have to put this stuff in his ears almost every day, but they just won't heal up.

I want to help him, but I just don't know how. I really need help so I can help my dad.


I had itchy, dry ears and it turned out that it was from my shampoo. I was allergic to something in the shampoo. I changed it and my skin went back to normal.


@ankara-- I'm not a doctor but it sounds like you might be suffering from dermatitis. You should see a dermatologist because you might need to take medications, either oral or topical.

I know that eczema is associated with dry skin and the flaking is a symptom of it. It might also be a result of a fungal skin infection.

Once you figure out what the issue is, you can decide what needs to be done. I don't think that lotions and creams can help a case of chronic dry, flaky skin. Those are effective if dry skin is due to cold weather or something like that.


I don't have dry skin inside my ear (at least I don't think I do), but I have very dry, flaky skin on my ears. I use regular body moisturizer but it doesn't seem to help.

I was going to try petroleum jelly but I heard that petroleum jelly only works if the skin is hydrated on its own.

I don't feel comfortable about putting olive oil directly on my ears. I have acne on my face and I think the olive oil might get on my neck and face and aggravate my acne.

What should I do?


@Mor - I'm glad I don't have your problem, because I'm pretty happy with my ear piercings and I think having eczema would make them almost impossible.

As it is, I have to be very careful to keep them clean and dry so that I don't get itching ears all the time. The extra care is worth it though, in my opinion.


I get pretty bad eczema on my ear and it takes a bit of control to reduce it. I try to wash them carefully every day and put a bit of medicated moisturizer on them as well. I also wash my hair every day.

Then, I use a clean towel to cover my pillow case, so that I'm not sleeping on something that might transfer some bacteria onto my ears.

This helps a lot, but I still get occasional breakouts. Luckily, people don't tend to pay all that much attention to ears.


Be very careful when you are using oils and other liquids around the ears. You don't want them to go into the ear canal. It's very difficult to completely clear the ear canal once something has gone inside there and oil in particular makes it a breeding ground for bacteria and can lead to an ear infection.

Frankly, if you've got dry skin around your ear canal, you might have to just accept it. I would only try to treat the skin on the pinna (the outer part of the ear) and none of the internal skin.

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