Itchy Ear Canal, Causes, At Night, Symptoms, Relieve &Treatment

What is this causing itchy ear canal? It could be at night or during the day. The common causes will include an ear infection, dirt accumulation or water as is the case with swimmers ear and over secretion of ear wax. In this topic, we discuss other possible causes of the itching, symptoms and treatment to relieve this condition.

An itchy ear will in most cases be accompanied by inflammation and swelling. Dry skin is a common cause of the itching. This happens when your ear fails to produce enough ear wax. The itching can also be caused by an ear infection. Those with asthma are at the highest risk of ear infection. Also at risk are those with underlying skin condition such as psoriasis and acne. People with Diabetes and HIIV/AIDS are also known to cause week immune system making these people more susceptible to ear infection.

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Itchy Ear Canal Symptoms

Itchy ear canal can be caused by a number of condition. With varying causes, the symptoms will also vary from person to person. The symptoms maybe mild or sever depending on how strong your immune system is. For those with diabetes and HIV/AIDS, the symptoms exhibited may be severe calling for immediate medical attention.

Itchy Ear Canal Symptoms
Itchy Ear Canal Symptoms

Mild symptoms can be managed at home with simple natural remedies and topical ointments. For inside ear infection and clogging, an ear drop maybe used. Seek medical attention if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Your ear start to itch and feel painful
  • Itching and irritation around and inside ear
  • Redness and swelling
  • Blocked ear and stuffy nose
  • Skin around the ear start to peel off
  • Scaly skin in and around ear
  • Hearing loss
  • Tinnitus where you hear sounds from inside your body
  • Spinning sensation otherwise known as vertigo

Itchy Ear Canal Causes

Itching is the uncontrolled urge to scratch your skin. It is a nerve ending response to an external stimulus. Our ears are filled with nerve endings making them one of the most sensitive body parts. This is the reason appears as a common region for itching.

The following are some of the common causes of itching in or around the ear. Some may cause more severe symptoms than the other. See a health care provider for efficient diagnosis of what is actually causing your ear to itch.

Itchy Ear Canal from Excessive Wax Secretion
Itchy Ear Canal from Excessive Wax Secretion

1. Extremely Itchy Ear Canal Eczema

Extremely itchy ear canal can be caused by eczema also called atopic dermatitis. Dermatitis of the ear canal is in most cases characterized by an itchy rash, scaling, flaking and inflammation of the skin. The cause of the eczema can be exposure to allergens also called contact dermatitis or it could be a spontaneous infection as is the case with chronic otitis externa.

Eczema cause itching, redness of the skin around the ear, clear discharge from the ear, hyperpigmentation and at times fissuring which is the breaking or splitting of body tissues. After eczema, a secondary bacteria can occur causing acute otitis externa

Ear Canal Eczema Symptoms include Itching
Ear Canal Eczema Symptoms include Itching

Severe cases of eczema should be treated by a health care provider. For mild cases, the symptoms can be managed and controlled at home. Topical ointment and over-the—counter eardrops can be apply on the infected area to relieve the symptoms.

2. Mastoiditis

Mastoiditis is the inflammation of the mastoid process. It is a bacterial infection of the mastoid bone that sits behind the ear. It consist of air spaces that help drain the middle ear. The infection may occur due to an unresolved middle ear infection. When immediate medical attention is not taken, the infection may spread to other parts causing health complications.

The condition is common in children but it can affect people regardless of the age. To unblock and ear due to mastoiditis, you may use eardrop or warm water. Oral antibiotics and cleaning the ear regularly can help protect against the condition. Make sure all the infection of the ear are resolved to avoid future complications. Seek medical attention by the site of the following symptoms of mastoiditis:

  • Fever and irritation around ear
  • Drooping and bulging of the ear
  • Colorless draining from the ear
  • Swelling of the ear lobe
  • Swollen lymph nodes behind ear

3. Swollen lymph nodes

Swollen lymph nodes can also cause itchy ear canal. Lymph node makes up body system known as the lymphatic system. This is the body together with the immune system that helps defend the body against infection causing pathogens.

Once infected, the nodes may bulge and become swollen. Swollen nodes can be itchy and painful especially if happening around ear. The swelling and itching can be managed at home using topical ointment such as anti-itching creams anti-inflammatories. A cold compress twice a day will also help in shrinking the nodes, seek medical attention if the symptoms take long to clear.

4. Fungal infection

Fungal infection is common among those with otitis externa, inflammation or other infection of the ear canal. Also known as otomycosis, a fungal infection is characterized by long, white, filamentous hypea growing from the skin.

Ear Canal Infection may be the cause of Itching
Ear Canal Infection may be the cause of Itching

The infection is sometime referred to as swimmers ear and primarily affects the ear canal. It accounts for around 7% of those diagnosed with ear inflammation. The common cause of the infection is fungal species Candida and Aspergillus. Those with more ear liquid are more likely to develop this infection as the moist environment provide an ideal breeding ground for the bacteria.

5. Otitis media

Otitis media is the inflammation of the middle ear. As a result of this, the ear may become clogged. The clogging provides high chances of having a bacterial or fungal infection that causes otomycosis.

Symptoms will include feeling of fullness in the ear, neck and ear pain, inflammation and swelling inside ear canal, headaches and itchy ear canal.

6. Otitis externa, swimmers ear

Another possible cause of itchy ear canal is otitis externa, this is the inflammation and swelling of the passage of the outer ear. To treat this kind of infection you can use antibiotics, either oral or injectable, this is good for relieving the pain. Hydrocortisone may also be used to reduce the inflammation and bacterial infection.

Hydrocortisone contain antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agents that will help reduce the outer ear infection.

7. Nervous habits

Nervous habits are not only annoying when people do them in public but also dangerous to their own health. This habits include fidgeting, nail-biting, hair- twirling, nose picking and pocking the ear. According to a publication by ABC news, these habits are very dangerous to your body general health.

The transfer of germs as a result of these actions can all lead a serious infection.

8. Acne around ear

Acne around ear caused by the infection and inflammation of the sebaceous gland is a possible case of an itchy ear canal. It is common to observe red pimple in cases of acne.

Cleansing the infected region with warm water and mild soaps can help relieve the itching. For more information on treatment seek medical attention.

9. Psoriasis

Another possible cause the itching around ear can be psoriasis, this is a long lasting autoimmune disease characterized by patches of abnormal skin. The observed skin patches are usually red, itchy and scaly.

To relieve the itching topical ointment may be applied, seek medical attention if symptoms persist for more than a week or two.

10. Contact dermatitis around ear

Contact dermatitis, a red, itchy rash around ear is also a possible cause of the itching. Though uncomfortable, the rash is neither contagious nor life threatening. Avoiding the allergens and applying topical ointment can help relieve the skin of the itching.

11. Seborrheic dermatitis

Also known as seborrheic eczema, seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic, relapsing and in most cases mild dermatitis. It’s a skin disorder that causes scaly, flaky, itchy and red skin. The dermatitis is also common on oily parts of the body.

12. Rhinitis

Which is the inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nose. It is caused by a virus, the same that causes common cold and by an allergic reaction as is the case with hay fever. The condition also causes irritation, other symptoms include sneezing and nasal itching, coughing, headaches and fatigue.

Other causes

Apart from the above causes of itchy ear canal, other causes can include secretion of too much ear wax and having dry ear as a result of inadequate ear wax secretion causing dry ear canal.

Itchy Outer Ear Canal at Night

The common cause of itchy ear canal is otitis media and otitis externa. This is the inflammation of the ear passage. Otitis externa is the inflammation of the outer ear passage whereas otitis media is the inflammation of the middle ear. Another common inflammation condition is otitis interna, the inflammation of inner ear.  The inflammation can cause itching at night or during the day.

The other possible cause of the itching will include bacterial infection. It is common for bacteria to burrow into the sensitive skin of the ear canal and trigger an infection that can lead to swelling, redness, pain and itching. For most people the itching will be worse than the pain.

The other possible of the itching at night is ear canal dermatitis. This is the infection of the skin in or around the ear canal. The cause of the dermatitis can be allergic reaction to ear rings and other jewelry or reaction to body lotion and other deodorants. Discontinue the use of the allergen to reduce the irritation and itching.

Itchy Ear Wax

Ear wax also known as cerumen, is a yellowish waxy substance secreted in the ear canal. Its function include protecting the ear canal, cleaning, lubricating and protecting against infection caused by fungus, bacteria and other micro-organisms.

Lack of enough secretion cause the ear canal to become dry. This may result in itching and burning sensation inside ear. To remedy this, you may apply few drops of ear oil. Seek medical attention if the ear remains dry for long.

Another possible cause of itchy ear due to ear wax is too much buildup of it. The buildup can also cause the blocking of the ear canal. For mild cases, the blocking can be treated using an ear drop. If the eardrop fails to help, seek medical attention from a health care provider.

The cause of the blocking will include the flowing:

  • Secretion of hard and dry ear wax
  • Growing old
  • Hairy canal
  • Having narrow ear canal

Itchy Ear and Throat

Itchy ear and throat is common symptoms of allergic rhinitis. These symptoms develop within minutes of breathing the allergen and can last for days after they start to show. Immediate symptoms will include the following:

  • Sneezing
  • Running nose
  • Itchy eyes, nose and throats
  • Watery eyes
  • Tickle in throat and coughing

Stuffy nose, sensitivity to light, pain in nose and ear and pressure in ear and haring loss are symptoms that may appear after some time.

Reduce the contact with allergen to prevent this. Seek medical attention for severe cases of the symptoms mentioned above.

Other causes of itchy ear and throat will include; Food and drug allergy or common cold.

Itchy Ear Canal Treatment

To treat an itchy ear canal your doctor will prescribe one or a combination of the following.

a) Eardrops

Ear drops can be used twice or thrice a day to soften the earwax. With this the wax blocking the ear canal can be made to drop by itself. The ear drop can also be used for bacterial infection in the ear canal. It can help reduce the growth of bacteria.

How to Treat an Itchy Ear Canal - Ear Drops
How to Treat an Itchy Ear Canal – Ear Drops

b) Aural toilet

To clean the ear, a thin instrument with a hoop is used. It cleans and scrapes out the earwax blocking the ear canal o cause the irritation and itching.

c) Miscrosuction

Common for blocked and clogged ear canal causing itching. Miscrosuction is a painless procedure where the ear wax is drained by sucking. It is a quick procedure that should only be done by a professional health care provider.

d) Ear irrigation

Another way to treat the blocking is by having an ear irrigation. This is a simple medical procedure where, an electric pump is used to push water into your ear. The procedure will help wash the earwax out and reduce the blocking. Ear irrigation will also help keep the ear canal wet to prevent the itching and irritation.

e) Hydrogen peroxide

For itching caused by bacterial or fungal infection, few drops of hydrogen peroxide can be used to get rid of them. With an ear dropper, pour two drops of the hydrogen peroxide in the infected ear. Do this twice a day for a week. If the symptoms fail to go away, seek immediate medical attention.

f) Antibiotic ointment

For otitis media, dermatitis and fungal infection, topical or oral antibiotics maybe used. For those with chronic medical condition such as diabetes, cancer and HIV/AIDS seek medical attention before using these medication. Let your doctor prescribe the medication to avoid drug allergy and other medical complication.

g) Steroidal topical ointment

A common medication for the swelling and inflammation is hydrocortisone. It is good for the swelling, inflammation and itching caused by most skin and body complication.

h) Antibiotics

For those with symptoms such as fever and headaches, oral antibiotics will be helpful in managing these symptoms. Antibiotics are also good for swelling, bleeding and lumps in the ear. They will be used to reduce the infection and clear the cause of the itching.

How to Relieve Itchy Ear Canal – Home Remedy

Mild cases of the symptoms can be managed at home. To do that, some natural home remedies can be used. The following are some of the common home remedy that can be used to relieve the ear of the itching, blocking, swelling and inflammation.

Few drops of Warm water can also be used you keep the ear wax soft too prevent clogging and blocking of the ear canal. Also while lying sideways, a rag or face towel soaked in warm water and placed around the ear can also help soften the ear wax.

Stop inserting things in ear to reduce the chances of ear injury, avoid things like pens, cotton swab and key. This are known to cause ear injury which in turn will lead to this kind of itching.

Keep the ear clean to prevent against viral and bacterial infections

Avoid irritants such as soap and topical ointment causing the irritation. Use mild products or natural once like aloe Vera.

When swimming or showering, you can use a cotton ball to prevent water from getting into the ear. These will help reduce the chances of ear infection

Keep away from the allergens causing the irritation and itching. Keep your surrounding clean and dust free. For those who cannot avoid dusty environments, make sure to use protective gears that cover the ear and nose.

Itchy Ear Canal Treatment – Video

Sources and references:

  1. Itchy ear causes:
  2. Symptoms of an itchy ear canal:
  3. Otitis media:
  4. Itchy inner canal:
  5. Ear wax and itching:
  6. Itchy ear treatment:


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