The ear canal is the tube that connects the outside of your ear to your eardrum.
"Derm" is a medical term for skin, and "-itis" means inflammation. So, dermatitis is inflamed skin. Dermatitis of the ear canal is itchy, flaky, and swollen skin at the opening of your ear and inside your ear canal.
The Outer Ear
What causes dermatitis of the ear canal?
There are 2 main causes:
An allergic reaction Overview of Allergic Reactions The immune system is your body's defense system. It helps protect you from illness and infection. The immune system usually reacts to and attacks bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells. An allergy... read more to something that touched your ear, for example, an earring or hair product you've been using
A skin problem, such as psoriasis Psoriasis Psoriasis typically causes red bumps or patches covered with silvery, shiny scales. Psoriasis is a chronic (long-lasting) skin disease that causes raised, red patches on your skin. The raised... read more or seborrhea Seborrheic Dermatitis Seborrheic dermatitis is chronic inflammation that causes yellow, greasy scales and dandruff to form on areas of the skin that have a high number of oil glands such as the scalp and face, along... read more , that affects your ear canal (and usually other parts of your body)
What are the symptoms of dermatitis of the ear canal?
You'll have symptoms in and around your ear canal, such as:
Cracked or peeling skin
Clear fluid leaking out of your ear
The cracked skin sometimes lets bacteria into the skin of your ear canal. The bacteria can cause an infection called external otitis Ear Canal Infection (Swimmer's Ear) External otitis is an infection of your ear canal (the tube that connects the outside of your ear to your eardrum). It differs from a middle ear infection (otitis media), which is an infection... read more .
How do doctors treat dermatitis of the ear canal?
Doctors will tell you to:
Stop using things that might be causing an allergic reaction, such as earrings, cosmetics or hearing aid molds—it may take trial and error to figure out what triggers the problem
Apply a corticosteroid cream or soothing ear drops to your ear
Keep cotton swabs, water, or objects out of your ear