Why Are My Ears Itchy? 5 Common Causes of Itchy Ears

Medically Reviewed by Carolin Schneider, MD

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Itchy ears are a common problem. You may feel a tickling or itching sensation inside your ear canal or on the outside of your ear. But resist the urge to scratch — scratching can make the itch worse and raise the risk of infection.

If itchy ears are bothering you, talk with your doctor about the problem and how to treat it. In the meantime, learn about five common causes of itchy ears.

What Causes Itchy Ears?

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Several health problems can cause itchy ears. Check out these five common things that can make your ears itch.

1. Swimmer’s ear

Swimmer’s ear (also called otitis externa) in inflammation of the outer ear canal. It causes itchiness, discharge and trouble hearing. It happens when moisture gets trapped inside your ear and makes bacteria grow. It’s common in swimmers, especially after swimming in lakes with dirty water. It can also happen when injuries to the skin of the ear canal let bacteria get in.

2. Allergies

Allergic rhinitis is an overreaction to things you’re allergic to, like dust or pollen. It mostly affects your nose and causes sneezing and congestion — but it can also cause itchy ears and eyes.

3. Too much ear wax

Too much ear wax buildup is another common cause of itching and discomfort in your ear canal. Other symptoms of ear wax buildup include a feeling of pressure and slightly muffled hearing in the affected ear.

4. Dry skin

Dry skin inside your ear may happen when your ears don’t produce enough earwax. People with dehydrated ears may also notice flaky, dry skin around the outside of their ear canals.

5. Hearing aids or ear buds

Hearing aids and earbuds may cause itching inside your ears. Earpieces can cause sweat to build up inside your ears, which can lead to an allergic reaction. Earbuds or hearing aids that don’t fit properly can also increase pressure inside your ears, leading to itching and irritation.

Get Help for Itchy Ears

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Itchy ears is very common, and it’s usually not a sign of a serious health problem. But there’s always the chance that it may be caused by a health condition — so see your doctor to find out what’s causing your itchy ears.

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