The ear is one delicate compartment of the body that must be nurtured with care because it is fragile and then responsible for balance. Imagine when the brain and body lose balance, it could affect activities and general well being.
The ear consist of nerves receptors that responds to sound waves or changes in movement; the eye also assist the ear in balance.
How hearing is possible: the ear drum vibrates when sound waves enter the ear canal. Ossicles, three tiny bones (including the stapes, the smallest bone in the body), pass vibrations to the oval window which is a membranes at the entrance to the inner ear.
How balance is achieved: balance is achieved through a combination of the sensory organ in the inner ear, visual input and information received from receptors in the body, especially around joints.
The information processed in the cerebellum and cerebral cortex of the brain allows the body to cope with changes in speed and the direction of the head.
In conclusion sound waves enter through the outer ear, moves into the middle ear and finally reach the inner ear and its intricate network of nerves, bones canal and cells.
Causes of itchy ear; Why do we have itching in the ear?
Ear itching is a tickling, irritating sensation accompanied by persistent need to scratch your ear. Redness, swelling, soreness, flaking and scaring may occur in the area of itchiness.
Itching of the ear can lead to infection and it does can also be a sign of infection. Ordinarily scratching can help to relieve the symptoms but it can cause more irritation. Therefore it is advisable to restrain from scratching and leave the area alone to heal.
An infection that can cause itching is otitis media (as seen in one of our article on ear aches). Otitis media which is also called swimmer’s ear caused by the presence of some moisture left in the ear after swimming leading to the growth of micro organisms. Other causes of itching include insect bites, allergies and trauma. Also the presence of a healing wound in the ear can cause itching. While in children, conditions like chicken pox, eczema and contact dermatitis, scabies and ring worms can cause itching.
Food allergies could cause serious ear itching and it’s dangerous which in turn require prompt medical attention progressing to the swelling of the face, constriction in the throat, affecting breathing and fainting.
Other causes of itchy ear
- Ear waxes
- Metals used for jewelries
- Chemical products like rubbers or elastics
- Detergents and soaps
- Extreme cold or heat
Methods of treating itchy ear
- Remove ear wax. The ear naturally produce waxes to protect the skin in the external ear and help trap bacteria, insects and other foreign bodies that are capable of causing infections to the ear. A buildup of excess waxes in the ear causes itching. This removal can be done by the use of antiseptics like hydrogen period or softening agent such as baby oil to help assist in removing ear wax. Using a warm water to irrigate excess wax may not help.
Some stubborn waxes can be removed by the use of an instrument called Curette; commonly used by ear, nose and throat physicians. Avoid using sharp objects, cotton-tipped swab and ear candle for removal. Also avoid the total removal of the waxes because the waxes are very useful in the coating and protection of the skin from irritation and could lead to more itching.
- Use of lubricants. Using a drop or two of baby drops or vegetable oil can help soothe the external ear canal and ease itching. Ensure you drop the oil while lying down with the affected ear facing up so that the oil can easily coat the surface and spread through. Oil- olive or almond oil
- Use of medications. Antibiotics and antihistamines can be used to control itchy ears. Infection of the middle ear can be usually managed with oral antibiotics while inner ear can be treated with antibiotics drops according to familydoctor.org. Common antihistamines are available over-the-counter at retail pharmacies as oral or creams to reduce itching.
- The Ear; Health line medical team: www.healthline.com
- Causes of ear itching: www.healthgrades.com
- Ear itching treatment: www.livestrong.com
- Ear wax removal: Natural drug formulary 2008/2009 Edition; Nigeria
Based on WHO Model formulary, Page 548- 549