Why do I have itchy ears? And how do I relieve it? That's our topic today on Ask The Hearing Doctors.
Hi, I'm Jim Cuddy. And this is Ask The Hearing Doctors. And I'm joined today by Dr. Wendy Thorne, doctor of audiology with Hearing Doctors. The Washington DC area's highest rated audiology practice with over 1500, five-star reviews. So Wendy, why do I have itchy ears? Who knows. I mean, my goodness, is it because somebody's talking about me? Is it because I got money coming to me? You know, all these old things where your palm itches and all that. But this is actually nothing to joke around about. I mean, some of this can be a difficult condition.
Yeah. So it's, you know, pretty common, a lot of different things can cause your ears to itch. Um, some of them can just be dry ear, um, underlying skin conditions, wax buildup, ear infections. Lots of different things can cause that. Right.
And to be clear, we're talking more about inside the ear versus on the outside of the ear, cause that's a little easier to take care of. But what are some of the things that people can do? Cause obviously, as we've talked about numerous times on this podcast, don't put anything larger than your elbow into your ear. Yeah. So, people typically have, I know growing up as a kid, my mom would clean out my ears with a cotton swab and alcohol. That's not the way to go about it. What, what are the, what are the negative things that can maybe that you might be doing on a daily basis that could cause this, these dry ear situations? Yeah.
So you definitely don't want to use cotton swabs. I know that feels good, but, um, doing that if you get some wax out, wax is actually a moisturizer. So having a little bit of wax in your ear is very natural. It helps keep your ear from drying out. So having a little bit of wax in there is good. So, um, you also don't want to clean out your ears with like alcohol or anything that can really dry up the ear. That's just going to make things even more itchy.
People always want to clean out their ears though. What are the alternatives?
So you can always see, um, your primary care physician or an audiologist. We have safe ways that we can, uh, remove wax. Um, a lot of times we'll also recommend using a little bit of hydrogen peroxide with some water, um, that can help soften the wax and then you flush out with warm water. Um, but that's something you don't want to do consistently or primarily if you just have a lot of wax buildup,
What about allergies? Is that, does that ever come into play with something like an inner ear itch?
Yeah, exactly. Just like any other seasonal allergy or any sort of allergy, you can get itchy anywhere, you can get itchy inside the ears as well.
I was kind of thinking of that because the itchy eyes and the springtime and that sort of thing with, with, with allergies. Um, ear infections, you know, which comes first, you know, the itchy ear or the infection, or how does that work?
Uh, I think it's a little bit of kind of like the chicken and the egg thing. It could be either way. Um, but once you do have ear infection, primarily like an ear canal infection, it definitely can be itchy. Um, and with that, you don't want to rinse out with water cause that's just going to actually spread the infection. So with that, you want to see a physician right away for treatment.
Numerous times I'll have an ear itch and I'll do that. I know I probably shouldn't do that, but I'll do that. It goes away. When, at what point do I say, you know what, I think I have an issue. I need to go see somebody.
So usually if it becomes so bothersome that it's just, that's all you need to do. It's just kind of driving you crazy. It's making it hard to sleep because your ears are itching so much. That's when you should see an audiologist.
Obviously as an audiologist, you're helping people with their hearing. With doing that, it's hearing aids and buds in the ear and that kind of thing. Do those sometimes cause an itchy ear?
They can, um, because there there's a lot of nerves in your ear, so it helps, um, they become very sensitive. And if you put a hearing aid in there, sometimes that one of their sensitivity things is it causes a little bit itchiness. Uh, we do have different oils that we can give you that really are hearing aid safe, but then they're also safe for your ear and it helps kind of keep your ear canal moist so that it doesn't get itchy.
And I've, I've asked this about other maladies that people may have that they may not realize that it's related to, to, uh, to their hearing per se. But for something that's really driving me nuts, hearing aid audiologist first or physician first? I'd say audiologist first. Audiologists first. Okay. And is it ever a situation where it's, it's so serious you need other medical attention?
Yeah. So if it becomes, uh, like swimmer's ear or an outer ear infection, those can be very painful. Um, they can spread easily and that is, you know, if the audiologists suspects that that's when they would recommend for you to see an ear ,nose and throat physician right away.
Okay. Well, I never thought we'd be talking just itchy ears and, and that it would actually be that serious a problem, but it can be. So if you do have that and it's getting to you and it's bothering you, you can come see Wendy or some of the folks at Hearing Doctors. Wendy, thanks so much for your time. Thank you. If you're in the Washington metropolitan area and you'd like to schedule an appointment with Hearing Doctors, click the link in the description or visit HearingDoctors.com.