Ear eczema is something that is becoming more common with increasing environmental triggers. Things like fragrance, lotions, cold weather, and allergic reactions can cause damage to the skin. The skin can be irritated easily with disease flare-ups if not managed properly. Ear eczema specifically targets the eardrum, ear opening, ear canal, or outer ear. Keep reading if you are looking for the most effective treatment to manage ear eczema. Learn what ear eczema is, what its symptoms are, and the possible holistic methods for keeping ear eczema at bay.

What is Ear Eczema?

Ear eczema is a skin condition that develops in or on your ears. This is a common condition that is not contagious. Ear eczema commonly presents as a rash causing discoloration, dry skin, and itchiness.

Eczema is also known as atopic dermatitis and is characterized  by dry, bumpy, sensitive skin that can present on the external ear canal or inside the ear canal. Atopic dermatitis can damage skin causing it to become itchy and break with persistent scratching. Skin affected by atopic dermatitis can become highly sensitive and prone to infections.

Symptoms of Ear Eczema.

Ear eczema is a very common skin condition. Eczema doesn't only affect the ears; people can develop eczema all over the body. It typically affects people with asthma, seasonal allergies, allergic rhinitis, or those that have a family history of it.

The main symptoms associated with ear eczema are itchy skin, dry skin, discolored rashes, bumps, swelling, and leathery patches of skin. Chronic atopic dermatitis can cause persistent itchiness and scratching which causes the skin to break leading to an increased risk of infections.

There are a few risk factors that are related to ear eczema. Each type of eczema can affect the body differently. The skin can become thick in and around the affected skin/area. Irritated skin can occur in or behind your ears. Some cases can lead to cracking of the skin and infection. Some patients may experience a ringing noise in their ear(s) or loss of hearing if atopic dermatitis is severe.

What Causes Ear Eczema in the Ear Canal?

Eczema can develop anywhere on your skin and can be caused by several different things. There are a few different types of ear eczema specifically that can develop. Let's look at the different types and their causes.

Contact Dermatitis: Irritant contact dermatitis occurs when your immune system is compromised. The environment influences your immune system. contact dermatitis can develop when your skin comes into contact with a substance that causes your immune system to mistakenly think that it is under attack. As your skin starts to overact, it can become inflamed and the inflammation can progress to ear eczema. Some of the most common causes of contact dermatitis  are earrings, skin care products, food, and pollen.

Asteatotic Eczema: This skin illness typically affects people of older age and occurs when drastic temperature or weather changes occur. That said, cases of asteatotic eczema often flare-up when the seasons change. Asteatotic eczema often breaks out when the patient is in dry or low-humidity air. Some other triggers include harsh soaps, wool, and skin care products.

Seborrheic Dermatitis: This type of dermatitis targets areas of the body that tend to be more oily such as the ears, scalp, nose, and chest. Seborrheic dermatitis is likely caused by an overgrowth of Malassezia yeast (a fungus normally found in the skin) that triggers inflammation, causing changes in the skin. In infants, seborrheic dermatitis is often called “cradle cap” and often resolves on its own. In adults, seborrheic dermatitis can improve without treatment or worsen over a period of years.

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes a rash with itchy, scaly patches. It is a condition thought to be associated with immune system dysfunction. Triggers include infections, stress, and cold.

Are Eczema and Psoriasis the Same Thing?

Psoriasis is a chronic, lifelong inflammatory skin disease. In contrast, ear eczema is an allergic contact dermatitis that can be treated by removing the item that’s causing the allergic reaction. There are also differences between the two skin conditions regarding how they look, how they affect the body, and how much they itch.

How to Diagnose Ear Eczema.

Your doctor will typically examine your ears and look for common symptoms like rashes, discoloration, and dryness. They will also probably use an otoscope to look inside your ear canal.

There typically aren't further tests after an examination; however, if your doctor deems it necessary to continue testing, these tests can be run. If you are going to the doctor looking for extensive testing, ask them ahead of time.

The doctor may run an allergy skin test, blood tests, or a skin biopsy. The allergy skin test determines what allergies you might have. Blood tests will determine if you are allergic to a certain substance or have a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection. A skin biopsy is usually necessary only if doctors have not been able to diagnose your condition using the other tests.

Possible treatments for Eczema.

The main thing you need to know to treat your eczema is what triggers it. Some things, including ear infections, can trigger rashes and worsen them. Once you can identify what is triggering your eczema, you can work on preventing exposure to it. Please note the following approaches are not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure Eczema, and cannot be used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Holistic Methods

  • Gently wash the ears with warm water
  • Avoid fragrance moisturizers/ lotions
  • Avoid triggers (earrings or chemical sprays)
  • Keep the ears warm in cold climates
  • Use over-the-counter creams to help with irritation and itching
  • Keep skin well moisturized
  • Use products that are designed for sensitive skin

Since ear eczema is a chronic disease, it can be hard to treat. However, managing symptoms is easy with a strict routine (it can prevent flare-ups too). The most important thing to remember is avoiding irritants will help with the healing process and using preventative measures will reduce flare-ups..

There are other treatment methods such as using ear drops, topical steroid creams, and prescription medications. Still, we always tell our patients to start with home remedies which can be beneficial in the long run. Avoid scratching, using beauty products, and over-washing if you have ear eczema. Also, avoid sticking a cotton swab in the ear canals, which can cause further unwanted damage.

When Will my Irritated Skin Feel Better?

Taking care of yourself and maintaining a good skincare routine will help with eczema. There are times when eczema heals but returns, which is why prevention involves not straying from your routine and also ensuring you avoid any trigger that will cause a flare-up.

With consistent and proper treatment, eczema can heal in as little as one week but could also take up to 3 weeks or more. This means maintaining a consistent, everyday routine. Avoid triggers like fragranced lotions/moisturizers, cold weather, and allergic reactions.

Key Takeaways About Ear Eczema.

Ear eczema is a common but treatable condition. Seek a holistic doctor who will perform a thorough physical exam and order lab tests where necessary to guide you on how to reduce inflammation and underlying triggers. There is a good healthcare provider for everyone.