Understanding Ear Eczema And Its Symptoms
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis , is an inflammatory skin condition that results in dry, rough skin with intense itching and pain. The skin can also swell, thicken, and develop scales, cracks, crusting, or pustules. Eczema typically first affects the face, hands, and feet. It also commonly develops where the skin creases or flexes, including the wrists, ankles, neck, and creases in the elbows and knees.
Eczema can also appear in different parts of the ear and its structures, including the:
- Pinna The entire external ear, including the lobe and cartilage
- Meatus The opening of the ear
- External auditory canal The ear canal, which comprises bone and skin and leads to the eardrum
- Tympanic membrane The eardrum
According to the National Eczema Society, eczema commonly affects the back of the ear, the folds of the ears, and the site where the face joins with the ear. One MyEczemaTeam member shared that they get eczema inside of my nose, in my ears, and behind my ears.
Some people diagnosed with eczema experience it on their ears from the beginning. Others find that it shows up on the ears later. As one member explained, Ive had eczema since I was 6. It finally cleared up in my late 20s. Now, in my 50s, I have it in my ears and on my scalp. My ears are bad and itch like mad.
Is My Ear Eczema Infected The Signs And Symptoms Of Aural Dermatitis
Like most types of eczema, eczema in the ear is susceptible to infection by bacteria or fungi/yeasts infection can make your ear even more painful and can even cause temporary hearing loss, so its important to identify whats going on and then treat it.
Ear eczema can be a distressing and overwhelming condition, with maddening itchiness and pain that can be very hard to manage if it gets infected, the discomfort is doubled!
Skin on or inside the ears can also become infected from warm water or high humidity, as well as damage from cotton buds or other things that have been inserted in the ear canal.
What are the symptoms of infection in ear eczema?
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Extreme itchiness
Infected eczema in the ears is very different to an ear infection which affects the internal ear. Eczema is a condition of the skin, and only affects the surface area of the outside of the ear, behind the ear, the bowl, lobe and folds of the ear, and skin lining the ear canal.
If youre worried about any infection, see your GP, who can give you a diagnosis and prescribe medicated drops or creams to treat the infection.
A 5-step home remedy for ear eczema
Antimicrobial oils can be an effective home remedy for mild cases of ear eczema.
Hearing Aids And Itching Of The Ear :
Sometimes the plastic of a hearing aid or polish on the surface of the plastic will cause an allergic reaction in the ears of the wearer. The polish can be removed or the hearing aid mold plastic changed. Hearing aids of the “BTE” type, where the main processor is behind the ear, have far less issues as there is very little contact between the hearing aid and the skin of the ear. This is not always possible however.
When hearing aid users get water in their ear, the hearing aids can trap the water in the ear causing irritation. Keeping the external ear free of water is advisable.
Hearing aids may have a bump which puts pressure on the ear canal. This can be irritating and cause itching. The solution here is to have the hearing aid mold revised.
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Targeting Specific Problem Areas
Another deciding factor when choosing a product is the location of your targeted treatment area. Different consistencies and solutions are better suited for specific regions. For example, when it comes to your face, you should avoid products with ingredients that could potentially clog pores and lead to breakouts. And, while a lotion is a great all-over body treatment, if you are battling eczema on your elbows or behind your knees, you will probably want a product that is a bit thicker and has more staying power.
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What Can I Do To Control My Eczema
Limit your contact with things that can irritate your skin. Some of these things include certain household cleansers, detergents, aftershave lotions, soaps, gasoline, and turpentine and other solvents. Try to avoid touching things that make you break out with eczema. Because soaps and wetness can cause skin irritation, wash your hands only when necessary, especially if you have eczema on your hands. Be sure to dry your hands completely after you wash them.
Wear gloves to protect the skin on your hands. Wear vinyl or plastic gloves for work that requires you to put your hands in water. Also, wear gloves when your hands will be exposed to anything that can irritate your skin. Wear cotton gloves under plastic gloves to soak up the sweat from your hands. Take occasional breaks and remove your gloves to prevent a build-up of sweat inside the gloves.
Wear gloves when you go outside during the winter. Cold air and low humidity can dry your skin, and dryness can make eczema worse.
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Looking At Possible Causes For Ear Eczema
If youve got eczema in or around your ears, its really important to work out why so you can tackle the root causes of ear eczema, because topical treatments such as steroid creams will only affect symptoms. Look at things like:
- The toiletries youre using: shampoo, facial washes, cleansers, shower gels, hair products, skincare, etc.
- Any other allergens or irritants youre coming into contact with: ie earrings, headphones, chlorine from swimming pools, rubber, plastics etc.
- Environmental factors: cold winds, changes in humidity and temperature, central heating etc.
- Your overall health: stress levels, diet and nutrition, sleep, etc.
For more information on what you can do if youâre prone to eczema in the ear, check out our article The Best Natural Treatments for Ear Eczema.
What Causes Ear Eczema
There are a number of different factors that can cause eczema, including: having a personal or family history of eczema using certain types of personal care products, fragrances, and beauty products being in the presence of certain environmental conditions, allergens, or irritants or having a specific allergic reaction.
Additionally, its important to note that there are three different types of eczema that commonly affect your ear region.
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Dry Ear Canal: Common Causes
The ear canal is the passage that runs from the outer ear to the eardrum. It is typically moist with wax, which helps prevent infections or bacteria from getting into the ears. If a person overcleans their ears or doesnt produce enough ear wax, their canal can become dry. Fluctuations in temperature can also cause the ear canal to become dry.
Allergies and certain products like soaps and body washes can also lead to crusty ears if they contain harsh chemicals that can strip the natural oil from the skin.
Other causes of dry and crusty ears can include dehydration, stress, smoking, swimming in a heavily chlorinated pool, or excessive sun exposure.
When someone becomes overexposed to the sun, they can develop a condition known as actinic keratosis. This condition often leads to rough and scaly patches of skin on the head and face, including the ears.
How Do I Know If My Ears Have Eczema Dry Skin Or Psoriasis
Ear eczema and psoriasis are common , chronic inflammatory skin conditions. Abnormalities in the inflammatory response of the immune system are the cause of them. Dry skin is temporary and curable, whereas eczema and psoriasis are chronic conditions.
It may be difficult for a person to tell the difference between psoriasis and eczema. These conditions can both present on the elbows, knees, lower back, face, scalp, and ears as dry, red, scaling plaques.
A person should talk with their doctor as soon as they notice these symptoms for proper diagnosis and treatment.
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Contact Dermatitis Or Eczema Behind Ears
img source: healthline.com
This is one is an inflammatory skin condition that can affect anybody at any age and is able to occur anywhere in the body. This condition occurs when the skin comes into contact with irritants or allergens. Allergic contact dermatitis is when the body comes into contact with allergens whereas, irritant contact dermatitis occurs when the body comes into contact with irritants.
Allergens or irritants may include dyes, shampoos, certain headwear and other body care products. They can result in blister or rash behind the ear that are extremely itchy, red and inflamed and that often causes crusts. Contact dermatitis is treated using topical drugs such as antihistamine creams, salicylic acids and selenium and zinc pyrithione shampoos, or oral drugs such as antibiotics as well as phototherapy in serious occasions. Home remedies are also available to relieve this condition.
When Should You See A Doctor
Usually, eczema can be treated at home with over-the-counter medications. But, if you cannot identify your triggers and want an expert diagnosis, you may consult a doctor. The first thing your dermatologist will want to do is assess your eczema and make a diagnosis of where it comes from, adds Dr. Haley. For example, your doctor may diagnose ear eczema by physical examination and analyzing current symptoms and family history. In some cases, you may need to take a skin test to figure out the allergens and triggers. If over-the-counter treatments are not showing any results on eczema, you may have to seek medical help.
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Dietary Changes Avoiding Certain Foods
This specific seborrheic dermatitis treatment approach has quite a large number of variables, making it hard to pinpoint any specific foods that can cause seborrheic dermatitis.
Everyones genetics are different. People from different parts of the world grow up on different diets. From my point of view, the biggest mistake people make is believing many of the myths going around the internet.
For the longest period of time, I was convinced that gluten was the cause of my seborrheic dermatitis. After attempting to go gluten free for almost a whole year, I came to the conclusion that it definitely was not the cause of my issues. Additionally, I found it a huge struggle to avoid products containing gluten.
Commonly Discussed Items â Everybody is Different!
The experiences of people all over the internet do point to a few key dietary irritants that keep coming up. These are dairy, gluten, fruit, and night-shades. However, I really believe that specifically outlined foods like this can lead to issues.
The best thing to do is simply keep a log book. Stop trying to over-think things. Listen to your body and see what itâs telling you and not what others on the people are telling you. Perhaps by learning to listen to your body, you will also get rid of that pesky seborrheic dermatitis in your ears.
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Managing Your Symptoms At Home
The advice below should help to relieve your symptoms to some extent and help to prevent complications:
- avoid getting your affected ear wet wearing a shower cap while showering and bathing can help, but you should avoid swimming until the condition has fully cleared
- remove any discharge or debris by gently swabbing your outer ear with cotton wool, being careful not to damage it don’t stick cotton wool or a cotton bud inside your ear
- remove anything from your affected ear that may cause an allergic reaction, such as hearing aids, ear plugs and earrings
- use painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve ear pain these aren’t suitable for everyone, so make sure you check the information leaflet that comes with the medication first if you’re still unsure, check with your GP, practice nurse or pharmacist
- if your condition is caused by a boil in your ear, placing a warm flannel or cloth over the affected ear can help it heal faster
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What Treatment Options Are Available
Treatments for scalp eczema will vary based on the type you have. You may be able to treat it at home with different hygiene practices and by changing hair products, or you may need to see a doctor to clear up and manage your symptoms.
Keep in mind that seborrheic dermatitis and atopic dermatitis can be lifelong conditions. Contact dermatitis should go away once you remove the element causing your symptoms.
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Which Topical Steroid Is Usually Prescribed
Creams are usually best to treat moist or weeping areas of skin. Ointments are usually best to treat areas of skin which are dry or thickened. Lotions may be useful to treat hairy areas such as the scalp.
Which strength of topical steroid is prescribed depends upon the condition being treated and how severe the condition is. For example, if you have severe psoriasis, your doctor may prescribe a strong steroid such as betamethasone. But, if you have a mild skin condition on your face, a weak topical steroid is usually prescribed for example, hydrocortisone 0.5%.
Topical steroid creams are sometimes prescribed as a combined cream together with another ingredient. For example if your inflamed skin has an infection with germs which are bacteria, the steroid cream may also contain an antibacterial medicine. If your inflamed skin has an infection with a yeast , the steroid cream may also contain an antifungal medicine.
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What Are The Treatments For Ear Eczema
Ear eczema treatments depend on the type and cause of eczema. Treatments for eczema include both at-home remedies and medical treatment. Talk with your doctor about which treatments are best for your ear eczema. Treatments may include:
- Moisturizers: Emollients add moisture to the skin. They should be applied to dry skin each day.
- Steroid drops: Doctors prescribe these drops for ear eczema inside the ear canal.
- Topical calcineurin inhibitors: This topical medication suppresses the immune system response that causes inflammation.
- Anti-inflammatory ointments: These can be in the form of topical steroids, such as cortisone cream. Its best to use the lowest strength that works adequately.
- Coal tar: Applying coal tar can help reduce the itching from eczema. It should only be used while under the care of a doctor.
- Ultraviolet radiation exposure can reduce the symptoms of eczema. You may need a few sessions before you start seeing results.
- Oral medication: In severe cases of eczema, oral anti-inflammatory medication can be taken. Oral medication can help some cases that are resistant to moisturizers or topical steroids.
- Nonsteroidal topicals: These topicals work in different ways to prevent eczema symptoms such as itchiness and redness.
- Biologics: These medications target inflammation and reduce eczema symptoms.
How Do You Prevent Ear Eczema
While its not possible to prevent ear eczema, you can manage your symptoms with the following tips:
- Keep your nails short so scratching does not cause skin breakdown.
- Consider installing a water-softening device, as hard water can irritate the skin.
- Swim in seawater during warm weather. Seawater reduces symptoms of eczema.
- Use sun exposure to help manage symptoms, but only for limited periods of time.
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What Causes Swimmer’s Ear
Many different factors can increase your child’s chance of developing swimmer’s ear. One of the causes is swimming or other wet, humid conditions. Other possible causes of include the following:
Rough cleaning of the ear canal
Injury to the ear canal
Dry ear canal skin
Foreign body in the ear canal
Eczema and other forms of dermatitis
The Different Types Of Ear Dermatitis
There are several types of ear dermatitis:
- Contact dermatitis: an allergic reaction to certain materials .
- Eczematous dermatitis: an inflammation that causes the formation of oily yellow scales. This is a common condition among those who suffer from psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis:
- Dermaphthytosis: a fungal infection caused by fungi.
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Dermatitis Of The Ear Canal
, MD, University of Virginia School of Medicine
, psoriasis Psoriasis Psoriasis is an inflammatory disease that manifests most commonly as well-circumscribed, erythematous papules and plaques covered with silvery scales. Multiple factors contribute, including… read more ).
) which tends to have more pain than itching.
Causes Of Dermatitis Of The Ear Canal
Contact dermatitis of the ear canal is an allergic reaction to triggers such as nickel-containing earrings and numerous beauty products .
and psoriasis Psoriasis Psoriasis is a chronic, recurring disease that causes one or more raised, red patches that have silvery scales and a distinct border between the patch and normal skin. A problem with the immune… read more .
The skin irritation and cracking caused by dermatitis may allow a bacterial or fungal ear canal infection Ear Canal Infection Bacteria and sometimes fungi can cause acute infection of the skin of the ear canal. Ear canal infection is caused by bacteria or, less commonly, fungi. Typical symptoms are pain and discharge… read more to develop.
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