Dermatology/Dry Skin in Ears

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QUESTION: Hi Michael,


I was hoping you would be able to help me?


I have dry skin in both my ears (in the ear canal and now outside it) that initally started almost 10 years ago from swimming.  I had ear infections and perforated ear drums in both ears at that time but the dry skin annoyingly remained.


I was advised to keep my ears dry at all times particularly in the shower/bath with Vaseline but that was all.


I have heard a number of ways to solve the dry skin (although curing it doesn't seem to be achievable from what I've read so far).


1)   Use a zinc pyrithione medicated product with a thin fiber wash cloth e.g. muslin face cloth.  I wanted to try Cutis Oil as a moisturiser as I had heard so many good things about it.
2)   Or use dead sea salt and a little water as a scrub then extra virgin cold pressed coconut oil as a moisturiser.


Finally, sorry but I want to make sure I do things right, should I also use a hairdryer after drying to make sure my ears are completely dry as this is what was most emphasised to me at hospital?


Do you think these would be worth trying?  Or do you have any other suggestions?  I didn't get much feedback from the doctors I went to other than use a spray (that can't be used continually) or use hydrocortisone (which thins the skin, etc).


Ultimately if the wax glands in both my ears actually worked I wouldn't have to worry at all!


Thank you for your help.

Lisa.

ANSWER: A hair dryer is too strong for your ears.  The hair dryer will cause more dryness of the ears. I would use a hydrocortisone but a better product to use is Elidel cream which is a prescription but not a steroid yet an anti inflammatory.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for replying.  I'll find out if Elidel cream is available in the UK.

Is there anything I can do that is natural to get rid of the dead skin cells etc along with a natural moisturiser?  If the dry skin wasn't there I think that would solve most of the problem!

Answer
Although, ear infection induced itchiness can be treated with over the counter medication and ear drops, yet, as ears are extremely sensitive, so it is recommended that if the itching is severe, you consult an ENT specialist. He would check the ear thoroughly, diagnose the problem behind the itching and then prescribe medicine for the same. If itchy ears are caused by an allergy, antihistamines are recommended by the doctor. If any skin problem is behind the itchiness, steroid creams as well as taking medication to treat the skin problem first, is the usual course of action suggested by doctors. Itchiness and pain caused by dryness and lesser production of earwax can be taken care of by application of heating pads on the ears. Along with the medication, the following natural remedies can bring a lot of relief to the affected person.

Home Remedies
Maintain ear hygiene by cleaning it regularly. At the same time, clean your ears only when there is excess build up of wax. Otherwise, you would be removing the natural oils from the ear canal.
Put a few drops of olive oil in your ear, two to three times in a day. Olive oil is soothing and will reduce any kind of itchiness that you might be experiencing.
If itchiness in the ears is caused by any hearing aid that you are using, before inserting it in your ears, rub a small amount of olive oil on it.
Sometimes hearing aids which do not fit properly can lead to itchiness and pain. So, get them readjusted in order to rid yourself of the itchiness.
Use only ear buds to clean your ears. Do not use pens, hairpins or any other thing for this purpose as it can puncture the eardrum.
Take some garlic cloves, crush them and mix them with olive oil. Heat this mixture to the boiling point, let it cool and when it gets back to the room temperature, put a few drops of it in the ears. Garlic is a natural anti-bacterial, antifungal and anti-oxidant agent and thus, will help in curing ear infections.
One of the most effective remedies is to gargle with warm, salt water. Follow it up with inhaling steam and drinking a glass of hot milk to which a pinch of turmeric has been added. This is an excellent remedy for sore throat, cold and the resultant itchy ears.

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Michael S. Fisher, <B>Ph.D., M.D.</B>

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