What Are the Common Causes of Flaky Ear Skin?

Flaky ear skin may be the result of a sunburn.
Certain shampoos and conditioners may contribute to flaky ear skin.
Sometimes flaky ear skin is caused by fungus and requires treatment with antifungal creams.
Eczema is a common cause of flaky ear skin.
Petroleum jelly can help with flaky ear skin.
Article Details
  • Written By: Madeleine A.
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 13 April 2015
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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Common causes of flaky ear skin include allergic reaction, eczema, dermatitis, and dry skin. In addition, flaky skin can be caused by sunburn, which can usually be prevented by applying sunscreen to the ears. Flaky ear skin can occur on the outer portion of the ear or inside the ear. In addition, dry flaky skin can also cause significant itching and embarrassment. Like dandruff, flaking ear skin can drop off onto clothing, prompting the individual to limit their clothing to light-colored fabrics.

Flaking ear skin can usually be treated by replacing moisture to the area. The ears are typically very dry and this is more evident on the outer portion of the ear. Using a good moisturizing lotion or petroleum jelly can help reduce dryness and flakiness, while restoring the skin to its natural suppleness. Harsh facial washes can also contribute to flaky ear and facial skin. Certain facial washes contain alcohol and other drying agents that can contribute to flaky skin, and by avoiding these product, dry ears are less likely to occur.


Dry ears can also be the result of certain medications. Antihistamines not only dry up nasal secretions, they can also dry out the skin, including ear skin. Alternative methods of treating a runny nose should be considered when the ear skin is dry to avoid aggravating the symptoms. Certain shampoos and conditioners may also contribute to dry flaky skin. Shampoos designed for oily hair can cause the skin to dry out, as can facial astringents and toners.

When symptoms of flaky skin persist, a physician should be consulted. Flaky ears can signify a fungal infection, which may require treatment with an anti-fungal medication. These medications typically work rapidly to eliminate the infection, however, they can produce significant side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In addition, anti-fungal medications can also cause severe stomach cramps and headache. These symptoms are typically more common with oral anti-fungal medications than with topical creams.

Excessive ear wax inside the ear can cause irritation, itching, and subsequent flaky ears. Ears should be kept free from wax, however, cotton swabs should not be used to clear the inner ear canal of wax. If ear wax becomes embedded deep into the ear, the individual should seek medical care to have the wax professionally removed. Self-cleaning the ears can push wax deeper into the ear, increasing the risk of infection and hearing loss.



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Post 6

For me, usually it is triggered by what I ate just prior to the symptoms. Avoid breads that contain azocarbonamide.

Post 4

I think my shampoo must have been drying out my ears. It really dried out my scalp, so I think it's probably to blame for that, too.

I would pick at the flakes until the area oozed pus! I had to hide my ears with my hair.

I finally switched to a gentler shampoo, and I stopped having such an ear problem. I had been getting the flakes on my scalp, too, so that's why I believe it was the culprit.

Post 3

@feasting – Petroleum jelly does work. Just don't use too much of it at one time, or you will wind up with greasy ears and hair that looks like it hasn't been washed in days!

It's best to just barely coat the tip of your finger with it and work it in slowly. Rub it in a circular motion, and it will absorb faster.

The first time I applied it to my dry ears, I slathered it on, and it got in my hair, too. I tried wiping it off, but the grease had already done its damage.

Just a little bit of it is a great moisturizer, though. Now, I only have to use it every few days, because it has reduced my flakiness.

Post 2

I didn't know that antihistamines dried out the skin, too! I have been taking them every day and night for years, and I do have flaky ears.

I can't stop taking them, though, because my allergies will be severe without them. I guess I'll have to try petroleum jelly on my ears and lotion everywhere else.

Post 1

It's strange how wax deep inside the ears can make your outer ears flaky. This happened to me, but I didn't think the two were related.

Every time that I touched my outer ear, it seemed that I drew back a finger covered in flakes. I had an itch deep down inside my ear that I couldn't scratch, even with cotton swabs, and I couldn't hear very well out of one ear.

My doctor told me that I had wax buildup, and she flushed it out of my ear with a giant syringe full of warm water and hydrogen peroxide. She had to squirt it several times to loosen up all the wax, and once the water dried, I could hear so much better. I was pleased to find that the flakiness went away soon after.

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