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June 18, 2009

Itchy Ears


A common complaint we often see patients for are itchy ears. The don't hurt or drain... They just itch... a lot...

There are a few common causes of such itchy ears including earwax, allergies, and a piece of hair in the ear canal. However, there are a few other etiologies which are not often considered.

Ear Canal Dermatitis

Yes... the skin of your ear canal can become dry and irritated (just like the hands after washing your hands too often). People sometimes complain of very dry flaky earwax with this condition, similar to the dry flaky skin of psoriasis.

Treatment is easy... steroids! Whether it be in cream form (elicon, triamcinolone) or drops (dermotic). For those a bit wary of using steroids, one can try facial lotion, mineral oil, or sweet oil.

Fungal Otitis Externa

Also known as thrush of the ears. This often happens when antibiotics are given repeatedly over time for an "ear infection" whether in ear drop or oral pill form. Pain may be present, but even with pain, the adjective itchy is always included.

Treatment is also a snap... anti-fungal cream! We like to use lotrisone for this condition. However, the other key to successful treatment is complete debridement of the ear canal prior to cream insertion. Also, when the cream is used, one needs to completely fill the ear canal from eardrum to ear canal entrance.

Often, one single treatment is all that is required!

Worst comes to worst, antifungal powder can be tried.


Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids. Google+ Christopher Chang, MD Bio

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