Ear Canal Eczema


Hearing eczema is very common. The symptoms are usually that the ear canal becomes stingy and itchy. Sometimes the ear canal becomes swollen, and then it can drain out of the ear and the hearing can become worse. Hearing eczema usually goes away by itself, but sometimes treatment is needed.

Symptoms of ear canal eczema

I t is common for the ear canal to become dizzy and it will itch in your ear if you have ear canal eczema.

Often the problems go away by themselves, but sometimes eczema develops into inflammation. Then it can hurt a lot and drain fluid from the ear. The liquid can be smelly, cloudy and thick. This is because dirt and skin cells that have not been cleaned out then have formed a grainy mass inside the ear canal.

You may hear worse if your ear canal is blocked by eczema, swelling, fluid and skin cells. When eczema in the ear canal is gone, you will hear as usual again.

Occasional eczema leads to an infection of the ear canal. Then you can get a lot of pain and maybe a fever. The infection can spread to the outer ear which then becomes red, swollen, hot and tender. Even the skin around the ear can become red and swollen. Then it often also hurts when you gap or chew.

When should I seek care?

Most people who have ear canal eczema do not need to seek care. The trouble usually goes by itself.

If you have one or more of the following problems, contact a health care center or an on-call clinic as soon as possible:

  • the ear canal is swollen and irritated and the trouble does not go away after two days
  • it flows fluid out of the ear
  • you hear worse on the ear.

You do not need to seek care elsewhere if it is closed. Wait until the on-call reception or medical center open.

What can I do for myself?

Hearing eczema often goes away by itself, but it can itch for a long time and the problems can come back. To relieve the hassle, it may be good to keep your ear dry when bathing or showering. You can do this by using grease, earplugs or bathing cap. You can buy fat wad and earplugs at a pharmacy without a prescription.

Avoid scratching the ear as it can aggravate the trouble.

You as an adult can also try prescription-free ear spray for ear canal eczema that is available at pharmacies. The sprayer can also be used by children older than five years.

Infecting ear canal eczema?

Auditory eczema does not infect, but in the grainy mass that sometimes forms inside the ear, there may be bacteria that infect.

How can I prevent it?

Don’t poke your ear. It interferes with the natural cleaning of the ear canal and increases the risk of bacteria entering the ear.

Those who have sensitive skin and easily get into the ear canal should use ear protectors and headphones that sit outside the ear instead of inside the ear canal.

You who have allergies and use earrings should only use those that are tested and recommended for you. Allergies and eczema that sit on the outer part of the ear can spread to the ear canal.

It is also good to use allergy-tested shampoos and soaps.

It is important to air the ear canal if you have a hearing aid

You who use hearing aids may think that it is good to air the ear canal by removing the device when you are not using it. It is also important to clean the insert so that no bacteria are introduced into the ear canal. 

For those who often have problems with ear canal eczema, a so-called bone-anchored hearing aid may be better suited than a hearing aid that is located in the ear canal. With a bone-anchored hearing aid, the sound in the leg is directed to the inner ear.


To determine if you have had ear canal eczema, the doctor examines the ear. They check if there is any eczema on the outside of the ear and if the outer ear is red, swollen, sore or feels warm.

The doctor examines the ear with an otoscope, some kind of flashlight, or a microscope. Then see if any ulcers are visible, if there is evidence that a sebaceous gland is infected or if the ear canal is swollen. They also check if there is any smelly liquid in the ear.

Hearing eczema can make it difficult to see the eardrum. It can make it difficult for the doctor to see if you have any other ear problems besides eczema. Then you get treatment for eczema first and then you come back again a few days later for another examination.

Treatment of ear canal eczema

Ovarian eczema can often be treated by a doctor at a health care center. You can get a  referral to an ear-nose-throat doctor if you have a disease of the middle ear or are operating in the eardrum. Also, you can get a referral if you feel very bad or if eczema does not heal within a couple of weeks.

Also, you can get a referral if the ear canal eczema comes back several times. Then you need to be examined by an ear-nose-throat doctor or a dermatologist to see if the trouble is due to any other illness.

The ear canal is cleaned

The treatment of ear canal eczema you receive depends on the problems you have. In the case of ear canal eczema, the most important thing is that the ear canal is cleaned. Then the doctor usually uses a suction. It is a small tube that acts as a small vacuum cleaner. Often, with drying ear drops it is sufficient to treat.

You may need ear drops with antibiotics or cortisone

Sometimes you may need to use ear drops that you receive on prescription. The ear drops usually contain a combination of antibiotics,  cortisone, and antifungal agents. Antibiotics help if you have a bacterial infection. Cortisone helps with inflammation, itching, and swelling. It is important that the ear is cleaned of wax and dirt before starting treatment.

A tampon in the ear can dampen the swelling

If the ear canal is very swollen you can get a small compress that is soaked in decongestants in the ear canal. It’s called a tamponade. Once the swelling has settled, you can start the treatment of ear canal eczema with the ear drops.

If the ear canal eczema is due to fungus, you will be treated with antifungal drugs. It can either be a so-called tamponade with fungicides or the doctor can brush the drug in the ear canal.

You get antibiotics if the infection spreads to the outer ear

Sometimes the inflammation can spread to the outer ear. Then you may need to get antibiotics in the form of tablets.

What happens in the body?

The ear consists of the outer ear, the ear canal, the middle ear, and the inner ear. From the outer ear, the ear canal leads to the eardrum, which is the border of the middle ear. The inside of the auditory canal is covered with skin and there are sebaceous glands that produce ear wax.

The task of the earwax is to protect the ear canal from, among other things, infections. The ear canal is cleaned by dirt and old skin cells getting stuck in the ear wax. Then it is cleared away as the wax slowly moves outward.

In the case of ear canal eczema, the cleaning of the ear does not work properly. Then the skin in the ear canal can become irritated and itchy.

Moisture, heat and cotton swabs increase the risk of trouble

Mild eczema is very common, especially among people who swim and swim a lot. It is also common in people who use cotton swabs in the ear canal.

It is easier to get into trouble in a hot and humid climate. Therefore, it is more common to have ear canal eczema in the summer.

Other causes of eczema in the ear canal

Hearing eczema may also be due to any of the following:

  • The ear canal is narrow and crooked so that the ear wax is difficult to drain out
  • The natural flow of the ear wax has been disturbed by a hearing aid or earplugs
  • Water or shampoo often comes into the ears
  • A float from an inoperative  tube in the ear
  • The eardrum has cracked and the fluid from the inner ear has run out.

Complications and sequelae

Usually, the problems with ear canal eczema are mild and go away after treatment. If bacteria or fungi become attached to the ear canal, you can get an ear infection in addition to eczema. The infection can spread to the visible part of the outer ear. It can also spread to the skin around the ear which then becomes red, hot or swollen. You may also have a fever.

Clogged sebaceous glands can lead to an infection

Just as you can get pimples on the face, you can get an infection in one or more sebaceous glands in the ear canal. It usually hurts a lot and can cause swelling and flooding from the ear. Often, swelling treatment is needed and sometimes a doctor needs to open the clogged sebaceous gland. Avoid popping into the item as it can spread the infection.

Hearing eczema coming back

It is common for ear canal eczema to return. Keep your ear dry and use allergy-tested shampoo and soap. It can reduce the risk of getting into trouble. Avoid poking in the ear. It is also better to use earplugs than earplugs when listening to music or protecting yourself from noise.

If you often get ear canal eczema, you may be given a prescription for ear drops to have at home so you can start treatment already when you get the first symptoms of ear canal eczema. It is important to avoid long-term treatment with drops containing strong cortisone preparations.

It is important that you understand the information

In order for you to be active in your care and to make decisions, it is important that you understand the information you receive from the healthcare personnel. Ask questions if you don’t understand. You can also ask to have the information printed so that you can read it peacefully.

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