Eczema In The Ears

Most commonly, eczema in the ears is a result of either seborrhoeic dermatitis or allergic contact dermatitis. Depending on the severity of the condition, it is treated by steroid ear drops, antifungals and antibiotics.

Two Types of Dermatitis

Eczema is a skin condition that can appear on the skin of almost any part of the body. Ear eczema is in most cases associated with one of two types of dermatitis:

  • Seborrhoeic dermatitis - Seborrhoeic dermatitis is a skin condition with an unknown cause that affects the areas of the body that are rich in sebaceous glands, such as the scalp, the face and the torso. When affecting the ears, it can be present in the outer ear canal, the ear folds and behind the ears.
  • Allergic contact dermatitis - Allergic contact dermatitis is a skin rash that develops as a result of having contact with a substance to which the person is allergic. It usually presents on the ear folds, and can be caused by anything from food to earrings.


The symptoms of ear eczema can vary from one case to the next, but the usual are:

  • Red, dry and itchy skin;
  • Cracking, peeling or scaling skin;
  • Fluid discharge, swelling, pain.

Skin redness, dryness, and itching are usually the first symptoms. After some time, the skin may become scaly, start to crack or peel, and thus leave a person prone to infections. If an infection occurs, the area can swell, and there's a possibility of fluid discharge and pain. If the infection is in the outer ear canal, it's common for a person to have some troubles with hearing due to swelling.


The treatment of ear eczema depends on the severity of the case, and whether or not there's an infection:

  • Steroid drops - Used to reduce the inflammation caused by the eczema, which also reduces itching.
  • Antihistamines - Also used to reduce itching and inflammation.
  • Phototherapy - Using UV light or blue LED light may help reduce inflammation in seborrhoeic dermatitis, and help with getting rid of some of the fungi that may cause infections.
  • Antifungals or antibiotics - If an infection develops, it is treated by antifungal or antibiotic medications, depending on whether the infection is fungal or bacterial.

It's best, of course, to stop ear eczema from breaking out at all. It is generally a good idea to keep the ears as dry as possible. That means wearing swimming caps that cover the ears when swimming, and using tightly fitting ear plugs when bathing. If the eczema was caused by an allergy, it is best to avoid the substance to which the person is allergic.

One of the most difficult things when having any eczema, ear eczema included, is to refrain from scratching. Some medications, both prescription and over the counter, can help with itching, but self-control is maybe even more important. Scratching the ears when having ear eczema can damage the skin, which may lead to painful infections that may require additional treatment.

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