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.
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 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 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?
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.
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.
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.