Itchy Ear

Author thumbnail Laura James  |  Published 16 June 2024  | Updated 28 June 2024  | 5 mins read

Older man touching and scratching ear standing by window.

Everyone knows that feeling of an itchy ear. It can come on suddenly and be intense and uncomfortable, before disappearing almost as quickly or can linger for longer periods of time. Having dry, itchy ear canals can affect anyone, regardless of age but, thankfully,  the occasional itchy ear is common and is rarely anything to worry about.


When you experience itchy ears, there are some other signs to look out for that can help explain the cause and help you prevent any discomfort in the long run. 

Some common accompanying symptoms of itchy ears (depending on the cause) include: 

  • An itchy throat
  • Rash
  • Skin redness or other forms of skin discolouration
  • Ringing in the ears
  • The feeling that your ears are clogged

Additionally, if you have an infection in your ears, the itching may also be accompanied by other symptoms like:

  • Fever
  • Swollen ears
  • Pain
  • Drainage or discharge from the ear, such as pus
  • Muffled hearing
  • Tinnitus


Itchy ears can happen for a number of different reasons: when waterlogged, when sensitive inner skin is damaged or infected, dry skin conditions, and more. 

  • Dry ears – if your ears don’t produce enough ear wax (which has a lubricating effect), they can become dry and itchy.
  • Swimmer’s ear – A common bacterial ear infection that is usually caused by water which has been sitting in the ear canal for an extended period of time and can cause itchiness, redness, and pain.
  • Fungal infection – Your ear canals are warm and moist – the perfect place for funal infections to thrive and cause itching. 
  • Food allergies – Because allergies to foods like nuts, milk, or shellfish, can affect your throat (which is connected to your ears via the eustachian tube) you can also get itchy ears when having a reaction
  • Build-up of wax in your ear(s) – If your ears produce too much earwax, the buildup can cause itchy ears. Earwax buildup may require professional ear wax removal at a hearing care specialist.
  • Hearing aids – Because hearing aids go inside your ears, your ear canals can get excess moisture or sweat trapped inside your ear canal, they can get itchy. 
  • Hay fever – Seasonal allergies are the bane of many peoples’ spring and summer and can cause itchy ears and throat along with itchy eyes and sneezing. 
  • A skin condition, such as eczema, dermatitis or psoriasis – these dry skin conditions are intensely itchy and flaky. 
  • Itchy ears can also be a sign of a middle-ear infection (otitis media). Your doctor can help to pinpoint the exact problem and offer you appropriate treatment. 
An audiologist explaining an ear issue to a patient.

When Should You Seek Medical Help For Itchy Ears?

While most itchiness in your ears isn’t anything to worry about, there are some cases in which you should seek medical attention.

If your symptoms don’t improve with time or home care, you are experiencing severe bleeding or drainage from your ears, or if you have any sudden hearing loss, you should reach out to your doctor to seek medical help.

Your doctor will look into your ears to help identify potential causes and will run any tests they consider relevant. They will also check for excess ear wax or wax buildup before suggesting treatment options.


The first thing you should do to prevent itchy ears is to stop using objects in them. Cotton buds, bobby pins, cotton balls, and paper clips can all do more harm than good, pushing earwax deeper and damaging the delicate skin inside your ear canals.

Instead, dry your ears gently using the lowest power setting on a hairdryer to help dry out the extra moisture that might be causing the itchiness.

If your itching is being caused by excessive earwax or by a dry skin condition like eczema, using olive oil drops may help to moisturise the dry skin and break up the buildup. Never use objects like cotton buds to scratch the inside of your ear canal – this can be dangerous and can damage the delicate skin in your ears, impact earwax further, or damage your eardrums.


Because there are so many different causes of itchy ears, there are a variety of treatments depending on the cause. In general, itchy ears are caused by the skin in your ears being dry, inflamed, infected, or damaged in some way. 

Depending on the cause, your doctor may recommend or prescribe the following:

  • Olive oil drops to soften earwax or moisturise dry skin
  • Antibiotic ear drops to treat infections
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Oral antibiotics to treat an infection – typically prescribed if you have a high temperature, or blood or pus draining from the ear
  • Steroid ointment to relieve inflammation
  • If you have a middle ear infection and a ruptured eardrum, you will need a combination of ear drops and oral antibiotics. 


Itchy ears can be caused by many different things, or it can just be a bit itchy for a while. If the itchiness lasts for longer than a few days, or doesn’t go away with a home remedy of olive oil drops, make sure you see your doctor. Don’t scratch the itch with any objects like cotton buds or bobby pins as this can make it worse and cause damage to the delicate skin inside your ears.

If you have bleeding, pus drainage from your ears, or sudden hearing loss, make sure you see a doctor as soon as possible.


Yes. It is also called otomycosis and is common in people who swim a lot. However, it can also be caused by using antibiotic ear drops.

Leave your ears alone or contact a healthcare professional for earwax removal as they have tools that can do it safely. 

Resist sticking anything in your ear to scratch it. Use a home remedy of olive oil drops to try and moisturise the dry skin and break up earwax buildup. If that doesn’t help, see a professional for safe earwax removal.

If your itchy ears are caused by dry skin, olive oil can help to soothe it. If it’s related to allergies or hayfever, try taking antihistamines to help. 

As long as you don’t have any other issues such as a perforated ear drum, olive oil is safe to put inside your ears.

Itchy ears at night can sometimes be due to temperature changes or difficulty regulating your body temperature.