When it comes to itchy ears, have you ever wondered why you can’t resist the urge to stick something in there? Well, it’s time to put down that cotton swab and explore the world of itchy ears. In this article, we’ll discuss the common causes of ear itching and what you can do to alleviate the discomfort.
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The Itch Inside: Why Your Ears are Itchy
Dr. Erika Woodson, an ear surgeon, explains the most likely culprits behind itchy ears. Let’s dive right in!
Dr. Woodson reveals that almost half of the people she treats have ear conditions resulting from excessive or intrusive cleaning. It turns out that earwax serves a purpose – to waterproof and protect your ears. It even has antifungal and antibacterial properties to prevent infection. Over-cleaning can remove this protective layer, making you vulnerable to bigger problems. So, remember, resist the temptation to stick objects in your ear canal!
Itchiness is often a sign of wax buildup, accompanied by other symptoms like pain or an odor from the ear. Surprisingly, most of us don’t need to clean our ears at all. Earwax typically comes out on its own, and you can easily wash the outer ear. If you experience wax buildup, use ear drops to break up the wax and let it naturally come out. Avoid attempting to clean your ear canal with any other objects, unless your doctor advises otherwise.
Underlying Skin Conditions
Eczema and psoriasis are dermatologic conditions that can cause itching on different parts of your body. But did you know they can also affect your ear canal? If you have a history of eczema or psoriasis and experience itchy ears, it’s essential to consult a dermatologist or an ear, nose, and throat specialist. Don’t let these treatable conditions go unnoticed!
Itchiness is an early symptom of an ear infection, often accompanied by pain and discharge. If you notice these signs, it’s crucial to seek medical attention. Ear infections can harm your ears and potentially damage your hearing. Keep in mind that individuals who use hearing aids or earbuds may be more prone to fungal ear infections. Regularly cleaning these devices following the manufacturer’s instructions can help prevent itchiness and infection.
Believe it or not, food allergies can cause your ears to itch. If you have hay fever or a pollen allergy, eating certain foods like nuts, soy, wheat, milk, fish, and shellfish can trigger itching in your ears. Pollen allergies can also lead to itching after consuming foods such as apples, melons, bananas, cherries, kiwis, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, and almonds. In more severe cases, difficulty breathing may indicate anaphylaxis, requiring immediate treatment.
Irritation from Jewelry
If you wear earrings, they may be causing your itchy ears. Some metals, like nickel commonly used in jewelry, can trigger sensitivities and allergic reactions. If you’re allergic to nickel, you may experience itchiness, redness, dry patches, or swelling, typically lasting 12 to 48 hours after contact. The best course of action is to avoid contact with nickel. However, if you have mild symptoms, over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream and antihistamines can provide relief.
Mild ear itchiness is usually temporary and tends to resolve on its own. However, if your itch persists for more than a few days, or if you experience other concerning symptoms, it’s essential to schedule an appointment with your doctor. Remember, proper ear cleaning techniques and understanding the causes of your ear itching can help you avoid unnecessary discomfort.
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