Why Do I Have Itchy Ears?
A full transcript is included below
Why do I have itchy ears? 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. Ana Anzola, doctor of audiology with Hearing Doctors. The Washington, D.C. area’s highest-rated audiology practice with over 1500 5-star reviews. Ana, it’s always great to see you.
Great to see you, too.
Thank you. So, itchy ears. A day doesn’t go by where I’m scratching my ears from time to time, maybe outside, maybe a little bit inner. I know I’m not supposed to stick my finger in my ear, but why is this a potential problem? What are some of the causes?
Some people have the tendency to put a lot of Q-tips or anything small that they can put in there, and that can actually be a potential danger to the ear. We’re not supposed to introduce anything smaller than your elbows in your ear. The environment is also a cause for itchy ears, but the use of mineral oils can actually help with that itchiness or relieve some of that.
What are some of the issues? I mean, obviously, if I’m having an itchy ear, perhaps, maybe not externally as much, but internally, that’s perhaps a sign that I need to go see my audiologist?
Yeah. Or potentially medical assistance. You could have dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, and that actually can be taken care of with other things out there.
All right. So, excessive cleaning with Q-Tip. Now, you should never stick a Q-Tip in your ear?
Growing up as a kid, that’s how my mom cleaned out a kid’s ears. It was always with Q-tips and alcohol. That’s a big no-no. So, what do you do as an alternative, or do you need to be cleaning your ears as much as we might think?
All right. So wax is actually there to protect us not only from foreign objects or even bugs, but it has properties — antifungal, anti-bacterial — and these are things that our ear actually needs to be healthy.
But is too much wax a bad thing?
Well, you don’t know if it’s a bad thing, but if you’re certainly introducing things like a Q-tip, all you’re doing is causing even a bigger blockage.
And that’s something for you to determine. So, I’ve come to you, I’ve got problems with, and you determine, well, you have an excessive earwax buildup. What are some of the solutions that you offer?
So, over the counter is something that we recommend for you to use, just to soften the wax to be then professionally extracted. We have machines here, we have products here that we can certainly use on a regular basis. We do that with our patients. We have patients just coming to see us just for wax removal twice a year. But it’s normal for the wax to be there but not to be touched.
Is that something that everybody should be doing, getting their ears cleaned two times a year, or is it different for different people?
It’s actually different. You could have itchy ears because there’s the insertion of a hearing device or earbuds. And the thing with that is important to wipe it down really well to get any of that bacteria off of it and disinfected. But if you wear a hearing device, for example, but it is rubbing the wrong way, certainly is something that we can handle. And patients should seek an appointment with their audiologist.
All right. So we’ve talked about over-cleaning your ears and that kind of thing, but some people do have an excessive wax buildup from time to time. What kind of solutions do you offer for folks like that?
So, we do proper cleaning here in the office. At any of our offices, we ask the patients to maybe, perhaps go to the pharmacy and get like a Debrox. These are just solutions over the counter. They soften the wax so that we can do proper cleaning here.
How often should somebody have their ears cleaned?
Yeah, so that’s a great question. Some people need it once a year. Others may be a little bit more than that. Twice a year. We have many patients just coming to see us, not for any other issue, but we want to rule out the fact that there might be a hearing loss associated with this wax buildup because too much wax buildup can actually lead to hearing, a temporary hearing loss. But we want to rule it out.
And you brought up the hearing loss. So, obviously that’s what we talk about a lot here, right? You’re an audiologist, but sometimes I would imagine hearing aids, earbuds of different types of people are wearing could possibly add to it an issue with an itchy ear.
Yeah, absolutely. So, you could have itchy ears because there’s plastic with the hearing aid. If the plastic is not fitting well, the acrylic part of it, it can be buffed down or it just needed to be remade or the earbuds for the over the ear type of hearing devices. So for that, you allow us as audiologists to actually address those issues. But disinfecting the hearing aids or even earbuds, listening to music, that’s really critical to minimize any itchy ears.
And that’s the kind of instruction that people will get from their audiologist.
I mean if they come in and…
Yeah. But if you have excessive bleeding or anything like that, that definitely needs some medical attention.
Okay. Are there any other things? I’m thinking like ear infections as a kid and you grow up, you always had this history of ear infections. Does that add to something as an adult?
Absolutely. So swimmer’s ears, an infection in the outer ear or even in the middle ear, again, that’s something that we can see here, but then we can refer them out to possibly an ear, nose, and throat doctor.
So, if you have itchy ears, it seems to be a regular problem, go see the audiologist first.
And you’re going to be able to determine for that person, I would think, whether they do need further medical attention or if it’s something that you can take care of.
Exactly. A lot of the times, it’s something that we can recommend here or we can address it with our equipment. First of all, the number one thing that we do here is we look in people’s ears. We want to rule out that there’s nothing else, like a foreign object blocking it and causing some sort of itchy ear.
Great advice. If you have itchy ears, don’t necessarily ignore it and just scratch away and scratch away. Go see your audiologist. Ana, thank you so much for your time.
Thank you so much.
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.