What Causes Itchy Ear Canals?

Itchy ear canals can be a real annoyance. To treat this symptom successfully, you first need to know why it’s occurring. Here are five of the most common causes.


Sometimes the smallest symptoms can be the most annoying. Such is the case with itchy ear canals. This relatively common symptom can have a variety of causes, most of which aren’t serious, although the itching can be a challenge to deal with. Before you’re tempted to scratch your itchy ear canals with a q-tip, or even worse, a pencil or pen, it’s important to know what’s causing the problem. Here’s what causes itchy ear canals.

Problems with wax

Both too much wax in the ear and not enough can cause itchy ear canals. If too much wax is the problem, you may also experience ear fullness and decreased hearing in the affected ear. In this case, the best solution is to visit a doctor for wax removal. Some people don’t produce enough ear wax which can cause the ear canals to become dry and irritated. This commonly occurs in swimmers. It can be treated by carefully applying a drop of olive oil inside the ear canals using a cotton swab.


People who experience seasonal allergies are more prone to itchy ear canals. This occurs from histamine release, an allergy related chemical that also causes the irritated, watery eyes commonly seen with allergies. The symptoms may be relieved by taking an over-the-counter antihistamine.

Fungal infections

Fungi can occasionally infect the ear canals causing itching and irritation. This is more common in swimmers and in people who frequently expose their ears to water. Keeping the ear canals dry and using an anti-fungal medication is the best treatment.

Skin conditions

Common skin conditions such as eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis can also affect the ear canals. This is more likely to be the case if there’s a history of allergy or psoriasis affecting other skin areas. Psoriasis involving ear canals can cause significant scaling and blockage that can reduce hearing and may require professional irrigation of the canals. Severe eczema or seborrheic dermatitis of the ear canals may require use of steroid cream or drop to relieve the itching and irritation. Occasionally, itching and irritation of the ear canals can be due to sensitivity to certain hairsprays or shampoo.


Unfortunately, bugs can sometimes take up residence in the ear canals at night while you’re sleeping. Once in the canal, it can be difficult for the errant bug to escape. This can cause itching, irritation, buzzing noises, and other unusual sounds and sensations in the affected ear. An insect can sometimes be removed by carefully irrigating the ear with warm water to drown it. If this doesn’t work, it’s time to see a doctor. 

Although itchy ear canals can be bothersome, never insert anything into the ear canals to scratch the irritated area. You not only risk puncturing the eardrum, but it also increases the risk of infection. Treat your ear canals as kindly as possible.

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  1. a really useful article. i found the part about bugs homing in the ear during sleeping time a bit squemish. i understand that the ears also need some almond oil in them to clear them naturally and no soapy water during bath or shower should enter in them too. i love this article like all the others. :) )

  2. Yes I heard the symptoms can be as bad as jock itch. Does starch help in relieving the itch.

  3. Hydrocortisone cream on a q tip works WONDERS! I am actually going to see a doctor b/c this is a recurring thing with me and it drives me CRAZY!

  4. ive tried very strong hydrocortasone and it does not work for me. i will try the almond oil.

  5. I, too, have recently developed an itchy ear canal. The most common, internet, home solution seems to be filling the affected ear canal with a mixture of rubbing alcohol (50% to 80%) and white or apple cider vinegar (20% to %50%). Another commonly reported “natural” treatment was filling the itchy ear canal with olive oil. With either remedy, the ear can be drained when itching stops (almost immediate, up to 1 hour).

    Notwithstanding, the use of cotton swabs and Q-tips are discouraged due to the possibility of injury. Using a dropper to fill the affected ear canal is recommended as being more effective and safer,

    If your itchy ears persist, your doctor or pharmacist.might
    suggest an antihistamine, corticosteroid, antibiotic, antifungal or other treatment.

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