What can I do for an Itching Ear?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Itching in the ears can be a minor irritant or an extremely painful condition. Because the itching may be a symptom of so many different ailments, it is impossible to identify one single mode of treatment that will work in all cases. Fortunately, a physician can utilize various tests to determine what is causing the itching ear and move on to recommending a viable course of treatment.

An itching ear may be caused by an ear infection, which may require medical help.
An itching ear may be caused by an ear infection, which may require medical help.

It is important to remember that an itching ear is often the cause of some form of otitis or ear infection. There may be other symptoms present along with the itching, such as constant ear pain or the sudden development of some sort of ear drainage related to the infection. When this is the case, the use of antibiotics or other medications may help to clear up the infection. As a result, the itching ceases entirely.

Treating an earache without medical supervision may be the cause of an itchy ear.
Treating an earache without medical supervision may be the cause of an itchy ear.

However, it is also possible that the origin of the itching ear has to do with the attempt to treat an earache without medical supervision. Many people assume that a buildup of ear wax is always the culprit when it comes to itching in the ears. Actually, the opposite may be true. Ear wax serves to protect the chambers of the ear from drying out and providing a home for bacteria. If too much wax is removed by constant probing with fingers, creams or other means, the ears are left with no natural protection. When this is the case, treating the infection coupled with ceasing to remove ear wax will allow healing to take place and for the ears to regain the natural ability to fight off bacteria.

A lack of ear wax may cause ears to itch.
A lack of ear wax may cause ears to itch.

When the balance of wax in the ear is normal and there are no signs of an infection, the itching ear may be a symptom of another health issue. Doctors can use tests such as an MRI to determine if there is some abnormality causing pressure on the ear, resulting in the itching. Ear, nose, and throat specialists can also explore the possibility of the itching being caused by some sort of infection in the nasal passages or the upper respiratory system.

An MRI scan may be conducted to determine the cause of an itching ear.
An MRI scan may be conducted to determine the cause of an itching ear.

Allergies can also be the underlying cause of an itching ear. Wheat and dairy products are two examples of common foods that may be the origin of the ear problem. Physicians can test for various allergies and determine if this is the case. Should an allergy be the root cause for the itching, making some lifestyle changes to avoid the allergens will often allow the condition to subside in a short period of time.

Exposure to common allergens may cause the ears to itch, in addition to other symptoms.
Exposure to common allergens may cause the ears to itch, in addition to other symptoms.

Fortunately, the specific reason for an itching ear can usually be diagnosed quickly. Once diagnosed, the proper course of treatment will begin to ease the discomfort in as little as a couple of days.

An itching ear may cause extreme discomfort in children.
An itching ear may cause extreme discomfort in children.
Cotton swabs should not be used to remove ear wax.
Cotton swabs should not be used to remove ear wax.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments

naturesgurl3

Why does my inner ear itch every time after I use a Q-tip? Is this a sign of me using it wrong, or do you think I have an allergy or something? I don't think that it's an ear infection kind of itching, but it's really annoying. Any inner ear itch remedies would be appreciated too...

FirstViolin

Itchy ears aren't only confined to humans -- dogs and cats can have ear itches too.

In the case of a cat or dog with an itching ear, your first move should be to look for fleas or other pests. If they're clean, then you may want to look for an ear infection of some kind.

This is especially true in the case of dogs with ear itches, because a dog's ears can easily get infected from washing. To avoid this situation with your dog, make sure to always dry out your dog's ears after you wash them, or, even better, swab them out with a little alcohol.

If your dog or cat shows persistent signs of ear itching, you need to take them to the vet -- it can be a sign of a more serious condition, so get them checked out as soon as possible.

rallenwriter

I never knew that ear itching and pain could be connected to an ear infection. If your outer ear is itching, could it be a sign of an outer ear infection, like swimmer's ear? Especially if your outer ear has pain and itching?

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