Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

Why Are My Ears Always Itchy?

Monday, 28 June 2010 02:05 PM

Question: My ears itch badly. It's some sort of infection. I've tried everything. Any suggestions?

Dr. Hibberd's Answer:
Ear irritation is very common, especially among those who are prone to various forms of skin irritation known as dermatitis. I'm assuming that you have had a professional examine you for unrecognized diabetes, immune deficiency, or extension from middle ear pathology or malignancy.

An infection may follow when a breakdown of skin integrity occurs in any area of the body, but especially in areas where moisture and cellular debris may accumulate without you being aware of it. The ear is a very common location for such irritations.

I have found that infections in this area are often related to trauma, including the excessive use of cotton swabs such as Q-Tips. In fact, cotton-swab use is associated with more infections than any other personal hygiene item I can think of. Many people push impacted wax farther back into their ears, causing new problems.

Cotton swabs are not intended to probe the inner recesses of your external ear canal. They should be used for the outer visible area of your ear only.

Generally, it is wise to not insert anything smaller than your finger into your ear. Only your doctor should probe your ear and this is done with professional instruments. The ear is a very sensitive part of your body. If you continue having discomfort, consult your doctor.

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