What Is Ear Eczema?

A cream for treating ear eczema.
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  • Written By: Dorothy Bland
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 21 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Ear eczema is a skin condition that causes irritation and inflammation inside or outside of the ears. The term eczema is actually a general term used to refer to a number of skin conditions that can cause redness, swelling, and bleeding skin lesions to develop. Understanding the possible causes, symptoms, and treatment options for ear eczema is likely necessary to obtain relief.

Several types of eczema can produce rashes or skin lesions within the external ear canal, ear drum, or behind and around the ears. One of the most common types of eczema is allergic atopic dermatitis, an allergic skin response that tends to run in families and often shows up in those who suffer from other allergy-based responses, such as asthma. The allergic response or skin sensitivity is triggered by an abnormal response of the immune system to a food or other environmental substance that is viewed as foreign. In the ears, the condition can show up on the back folds of the ear.

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Seborrhoeic dermatitis is another common form of eczema that can cause cradle cap in infants; in adults the rash may appear in the head and appears similar to dandruff. In the ears, the condition often appears in the external auditory canal. A further common variation of eczema is allergic contact dermatitis, a skin rash triggered by direct skin contact with a substance to which an individual is allergic. When the condition appears on the ears, it could be related to wearing earrings containing nickel, gold, or some other irritant. A helix piercing, one done on the upper ear, also has the possibility of triggering ear eczema.

The symptoms associated with ear eczema tend to vary among individuals. For some the skin lesions results in mild dryness and redness. Others, however, can develop a more serious skin condition presenting with skin loss, extreme dryness, and soreness. The skin of the ear may also become darker, crack, and peel. In some cases, these breaks within the skin allow bacteria or fungi to invade and turn the irritating itch into an ear infection characterized by swelling, crusting, and fluid discharge.

Proper treatment of ear eczema will differ depending on how far the condition has progressed. If an ear infection is present, antibiotics or antifungal or steroid ear drops could be prescribed to help clear up the infection. Oral antibiotics may also be given to hasten recovery and stop the itching. The pain might also be managed by over-the-counter or prescription pain medications.

For regular treatment of ear eczema and to prevent infections from developing, sufferers are usually advised to avoid scratching the ears. In most cases, constant scratching can actually further irritate and inflame the skin. With eczema, keeping the ear as dry as possible is also usually recommended as a precaution against infections. Eczema ear suffers can also use ear plugs when bathing or tightly fitted waterproof swimming caps when swimming so water does not enter the ear canal. Anti-itch ear creams, drops, or oral medications that contain antihistamines or steroids may be available over the counter and might be effective at treating and clearing up mild ear rashes.

Eczema that occurs in the ears can often be confused with other skin conditions, such as psoriasis. For an accurate diagnosis of ear eczema, visiting a dermatologist, primary care provider, or allergist may be necessary. A medical professional can perform allergy tests to help determine irritants or triggers of the condition and develop a corresponding treatment plan.

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Discuss this Article

serenesurface
Post 3

@ddljohn-- Do you happen to swim a lot?

I had ear eczema for a while when I was swimming frequently in a pool. Mine was an allergic reaction to the pool water and maybe my ears staying wet for far too long.

It basically went away when I stopped swimming. It also helped to keep my ears dry but moisturized with lotion. There are also home remedies for ear eczema, such as using sweet oil to clean the ears.

I want to swim again but I'm scared about developing eczema.

burcinc
Post 2

@ddljohn-- There are actually seven different types of eczema and they all look a little bit different.

Ear drops are often prescribed for it, as well as topical creams and sprays. It really depends on the symptoms and the cause. Call your doctor if the treatment isn't working.

ddljohn
Post 1

I was diagnosed with ear eczema last week. It has come as a surprise because I didn't think that my symptoms matched those of eczema. I just have itching and redness on my ears. I always thought that eczema causes thickened, blistering skin.

My doctor has given me steroid ear drops for it. It has only been a few days but I'm not seeing an improvement. I'm not sure why my doctor gave me this instead of a cream.

Does anyone else here have ear eczema? How are you being treated? Is it usual to treat this condition with steroidal drops?

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