How Do I Treat Dry Skin in the Ears?

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

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.

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

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

What Causes Dry Flaky Skin in the Ear?

There are several causes of dry, flaky skin in the ears. Typically, it is the result of a skin condition that also affects other parts of the body, such as eczema, psoriasis, or dermatitis.

Eczema typically occurs in the ear canal and can feel very uncomfortable. People who have eczema in the ear canal often have it on the scalp or on the nose as well.

Cleaning the ears too often may result in dry skin.
Cleaning the ears too often may result in dry skin.

Psoriasis is another common cause of dry, itchy skin in the ear canal. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that causes skin cells to grow too fast. Because they then build up, they'll create dry, scaly patches and redness. Psoriasis often affects the outer ear as well as the scalp, neck, and other parts of the body.

Dermatitis is a common cause as well. There are different types of this skin irritation, some of which are the result of allergic reactions to skin cleansers or shampoos. Dermatitis can also occur for seemingly no reason. Dandruff is one example.

Use of a washcloth can help remove dry skin from ears.
Use of a washcloth can help remove dry skin from ears.

Sometimes, people experience dry and itchy skin in the ear for reasons unrelated to skin conditions. People who wear hearing aids often develop dry skin in the ears because the device will rub against them. Sometimes, people who wear hearing aids are allergic to the materials used to create them, which can also cause skin irritation. Finally, someone who overcleans their ears may develop dry skin.

How To Moisturize Itchy Dry Skin in the Ear Canal

There are a number of ways that you can moisturize the dry, itchy skin in your ears. Most professionals recommend that you treat the itching first and then try to re-establish the correct amount of moisture into the ears.

If you have eczema, psoriasis, or dermatitis in the ear, you'll likely need to use an over-the-counter steroid cream or ear drop product. These typically include a combination of oils and an anti-inflammatory steroid. This helps to relieve the itching as well as to restore the moisture balance in the ear.

Sometimes, too much scratching a dry, flaky, and itchy ear can lead to minor infections. If you have an infection, your doctor may prescribe antifungal eardrops or oral antibiotics to help the problem. Whether you purchase something over the counter or your doctor prescribes something, it's important to keep in mind that prolonged use of steroid creams can cause the skin to become too thin and lead to further problems.

Sometimes, treatment options have nothing to do with skin conditions and do not require a doctor's help. If your dry and itchy ear problems are due to dry or windy weather, you can gently clean them. This will help to remove dust or other irritants while helping your ear's natural balance of moisture. If you live in a particularly harsh climate, you can spread petroleum jelly over your outer ears to help with moisture problems.

Avoid using medications that contain alcohol, vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide. These may dry the ears out further even if they temporarily relieve the itching. Avoid using small cotton swabs, as it's easy to over-clean the ear, not to mention cause them to slip into your inner ear and hurt your eardrums.

How To Prevent Dry, Flaky Ears

After you treat your itching, flaky ears, it's important to do what you can to prevent the problem from happening again. Typically, you'll just need to make a few simple changes to your normal routine.

First, think about the temperature in your home. Heat that is too high can dry your ear out and cause it to start flaking and itching. If you have a habit of turning the heat up high, try lowering it by a few degrees. Not only will it help to re-moisturize your ear, but it will save you a few bucks on your energy bill as well.

It's also important to avoid taking showers that are too hot. If you do take long, hot baths, consider sticking cotton balls in your ears to prevent them from drying out too much.

If your dry ears happen even after making changes to your routine, you may need to add a humidifier to the mix. This is especially true if you keep the heat high or the air conditioner low, or if you spend a lot of time outside in a dry climate.

When To See a Doctor

If you have tried changing your routine or using over-the-counter remedies but they aren't working, it may be time to ask your doctor for help. It is also important to seek medical care if the dry patches hurt, become too red, get crusty, begin to bleed, or show signs of infection. A doctor may gently cleanse your ears, diagnose the problem, and provide prescriptions to ease the problem.

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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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    • Petroleum jelly can help with dry skin in the ears.
      By: blueee
      Petroleum jelly can help with dry skin in the ears.
    • The ears are prone to dry skin.
      By: Lev Dolgatsjov
      The ears are prone to dry skin.
    • If home remedies do not solve dry ear skin issues, a doctor should be consulted.
      By: JPC-PROD
      If home remedies do not solve dry ear skin issues, a doctor should be consulted.
    • Used carefully, some over the counter (OTC) creams may help alleviate dry skin in and around the ears.
      By: luiscarceller
      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.
      By: WavebreakMediaMicro
      Cleaning the ears too often may result in dry skin.
    • Use of a washcloth can help remove dry skin from ears.
      By: micro10x
      Use of a washcloth can help remove dry skin from ears.