Ear eczema can be painful; at the least it is irritating. You could have slight dryness of the pinna which is the visible and projecting part of your ear up to skin soreness or infection of the internal and external parts of your ear.
It is possible for eczema to affect the entire ear, such as the conchal bowl, which is the area outside of your ear hole, the earlobes, the meatus or ear opening, and the external auditory canal or just ear canal which is the part that leads to the ear drum or tympanic membrane.
The backs of your ears, the folds, and where your ear meets your face are also common spots for eczema to appear.
There are several things that can cause eczema in ears. How long does it last? This depends but with proper treatment it may clear up in 1-3 weeks, but unfortunately there isn't a single treatment that can claim to completely eliminate ear eczema symptoms. Flare-ups still typically occur from time to time for the remainder of your life.
If you believe you have ear eczema, then the best thing you can do is consult with your doctor in order to get the most effective treatment options to prevent both flare-ups and symptoms.
Types of Ear Eczema
There are several types of eczema that can affect the ears including atopic eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, asteatotic eczema, contact dermatitis, and otitis externa.
Atopic eczema commonly affects the ears of people. It makes the skin itchy, dry, and red or just darker than normal.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a type of eczema that happens due to overgrowth of a yeast known as Malassezia that lives on our skin. People with this type of eczema often tend to have dandruff. Treatment usually involves anti-fungal creams or shampoos.
Asteatotic eczema tends to affect older people. Factors that aggravate this type of eczema include cold or windy weather, over-washing, air conditioning, and low humidity indoors.
Contact dermatitis commonly affects the external ear. This type of eczema appears when the skin is irritated by a substance such as shampoo, hair spray, hair gel, perm solution, hair colorant, or perfume.
Allergic contact dermatitis is when your body reacts to a substance you are allergic to including ear appliances like hearing aids, earrings (especially with nickel), objects used to clean the ear such as q tips, cosmetics such as perfume, topical medications, products used on the hair and scalp such as shampoos, as well as allergens that are transferred from the fingers to the ears such as nail varnish or plant resin.
Otitis externa is also known as “swimmer’s ear” and is inflammation of the ear canal. It can, however, be caused by eczema or a fungal infection.
Ear piercings do not necessarily cause eczema of the ear, although problems can arise later on due to wearing earrings. Nickel allergies are very common and getting your ears pierced increases the risk of developing a nickel allergy. This can be prevented by wearing only hypo-allergenic jewelry or pure gold, silver, or platinum.
Pierced ears can become infected if not cared for properly after getting pierced. Make sure that your ear-piercing technician is reputable and that you wash the piercings quite frequently with the saline solution that the technician gives you.
Ear Eczema Symptoms
Symptoms vary by person, but the most common include:
- Bumps on your skin
- Crusty skin
- Dry skin
- Itchy skin
- Leathery patches of skin
- Discolored rashes
It's also important to note that ear eczema isn't usually painful, but it is possible to scratch it and accidentally break the skin. This could lead to an infection that results in pain.
Ear Eczema Treatment
Treatment of ear eczema depends on the type of eczema, which can be diagnosed by your doctor. You may be prescribed a topical steroid or anti-fungal cream. Sometimes topical calcineurin inhibitors are prescribed as an ear eczema treatment. If the eczema is inside of your ear, then your doctor will prescribe steroid ear eczema drops.
If the doctor suspects allergic contact dermatitis, then you will likely be referred to a dermatologist. For otitis externa you will likely be prescribed antibiotic drops. Regardless, we encourage you to speak with your doctor or dermatologist if you're having a hard time managing it. Ear eczema treatment is possible and there are more people suffering from it than you may realize.
Soothe Your Eczema
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