Ear itching: causes and effective remedies
When we talk about itching in the ear, we refer both to that itchy sensation that is felt inside the ear, and to that itching that affects the auricle, therefore the outermost part. Ear itching can be felt mono or bilaterally and can correspond to pain or simply discomfort.
Ear itching may also be present in the case of red ear syndrome (auricular erythromelalgia), a rare pain syndrome characterized by redness and warmth of the ear.
In general, ear itching can be more or less intense, but since it is a delicate area, even minimal itching can be particularly annoying.
Why does it manifest itself?
The possible causes of itchy ears are different. Among the most common we find the lack of ventilation of the ear canal, due to the prolonged use of earphones or headphones to listen to music or earplugs (such as those used in work environments that need to isolate the eardrum from noise pollution or night versions to facilitate sleep).
Do you listen incessantly to the most beautiful love songs ever at work? Try changing headphones or giving your ears some respite!
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Another common cause is poor hygiene. In fact, if the ear is not cleaned or incorrectly cleaned, the earwax can obstruct the ear canal, forming a solid concretion called "earwax plug", which can cause itching and ear pain.
Other times the cause is difficult to find, and it may be necessary to consult a specialist to identify and resolve one of these issues:
- ear infection;
- otitis externa or swimmer's ear (an infection that occurs following the accumulation of water in the ear canal after swimming)
- seborrheic dermatitis;
- sore throat;
- insect sting;
- allergic reaction (from food or from the use of cosmetics and detergents, as well as caused by contact with particular metals such as those used in jewelry);
- herpes zoster oticus (a very painful form of St. Anthony's fire that affects the ear);
- cancerous or pre-cancerous lesion (for example, actinic keratosis);
- bacterial infection.
What not to do in case of itchy ear
The first good rule is not to scratch under any circumstances. In fact, even if at the very first moment you seem to benefit from it, your approach would only make the problem worse. The same goes for cotton swabs, which are prohibited in case of itchy ears! You are wondering, but why? Because they would risk damaging hearing contact and destabilizing the internal balance of the same, promoting dryness and skin sensitivity.
Forewarned is forearmed.
How to solve itchy ears
Obviously the remedies vary according to the causes of the same.
Let's start from the basics: in general, the cleaning of the ear canal should always be done using special products and above all demineralized water and as we said, the introduction of cotton buds, keys or toothpicks should always be avoided (you read that right, these "solutions" are more common than you think!).
In case of itching, you could try some natural and non-natural remedies that can help you find some relief, removing the temptation to scratch:
- A capsaicin-based cream, capable of numbing nerve endings;
- A moisturizing cream based on starch glycerol;
- A few drops of olive oil or aloe vera, a true ally of your well-being (which has a soothing and anti-inflammatory action), to be applied with a special dropper: they will help you to restore the natural PH of the ear, giving a sensation relaxation;
- Tree oil, which calms irritation and moisturizes in case of flaking;
- A compress of two teaspoons of baking soda in a little water to be applied locally for a few minutes;
- A few drops of apple cider vinegar, held in the ear for 10 minutes and then gently eliminated, which disinfects and helps healing;
- Basil: in addition to being one of the foods rich in calcium (did you know?), Basil, like thyme and nettle, is an effective natural remedy: it is necessary to apply a few drops of a liquid obtained from the infusion in boiling water of some dried basil leaves, subsequently filtered.
These are palliative solutions, which do not resolve the underlying condition, but are able to at least give some relief quite quickly.
Obviously, if you are considering these remedies, it is always good to contact an otolaryngologist first, who will help you remove the triggering cause through a natural or pharmacological solution. Your doctor may in fact recommend some antifungal drugs (in case of fungal infection), cortisone or antihistamines (in case of allergic problems).
© Getty Images
The most effective solution against itchy ears
The good news is that, in most cases, the solution is really simple, free and within everyone's reach. This remedy is called "do nothing". In fact, by not intervening in any way the problem almost always resolves itself spontaneously. You can try to improve ear ventilation by wearing fewer earphones and plugs. And remember to touch your ears as little as possible even if it is itchy. The discomfort should gradually subside until it disappears.
There are different types of itching in the ear: it can in fact manifest itself on one side or both, it can concentrate on the external or internal part and can cause from a slight discomfort to an unbearable pain. Causes include allergies, injuries, poor ventilation or hygiene, mycosis and psoriasis. It is always a good idea to first try to remove ear plugs and earphones for a few days and not scratch for any reason. In the event that the problem does not resolve spontaneously, it will be necessary to contact an otolaryngologist to investigate the causes and find the most effective natural or pharmacological therapy.