- Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes the skin’s life cycle to accelerate.
- A buildup of skin scales or wax in the external area of your ear might indicate psoriasis.
- There are multiple effective treatments for psoriasis, including topical ointments and medication.
Psoriasis is a relatively common, chronic skin condition. It can be found in both children and adults, although it is most commonly diagnosed in early adulthood. It is an autoimmune disease that causes the skin’s life cycle to accelerate. Dead skin cells rapidly accumulate and create rough, dry, red patches or scales that can itch or hurt. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study estimated that 5 million people in the United States have psoriasis.
Pain or itching on the skin around your ear might be an indication of psoriasis. If this is the case, you might notice a buildup of skin scales or wax in the external area of your ear. This can make hearing difficult. According to the International Eczema and Psoriasis Foundation (IEPF), up to 18 percent of people diagnosed with psoriasis will end up with patches of affected skin on or near their ears.
Psoriasis is a lifelong condition that may respond well to treatment but cannot be totally cured.
If you notice a pattern of consistent pain or itching on the skin around your ear, you might have psoriasis. The National Psoriasis Foundation explains that psoriasis usually occurs in the external ear canal. Regardless of where on your ear it occurs, you may have a buildup of scales or wax, making it difficult to hear.
Your symptoms might include:
- small or large areas of irritated skin that won’t heal
- dry or cracked skin that bleeds
- nails with pits or ridges on them
- joints that feel swollen or rigid (part of psoriatic arthritis)
- temporary hearing loss from blocked ears
It’s common for psoriasis in the ear to spread onto the face. You might notice it around your eyes, mouth, and nose. A small number of people may even find psoriasis on their gums, tongue, or the inside of their cheeks and lips.
After an initial consultation with your primary care physician, you may be referred to a dermatologist for treatment.
There are several methods for treating psoriasis in the ear. Some treatment options are better for than others. Talk to your doctor about treatment and take into account the severity of your symptoms plus any medication allergies you may have.
The IEPF outlines a home care routine that can be helpful with psoriasis in the ear. According to the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, the use of jojoba oil can be beneficial for easing skin affected by this condition. Olive oil is another option, though no extensive research has been done into its effectiveness.
You can try the following two-step process for using a natural oil for psoriasis:
- You can find over-the-counter ear cleansing kits that involve squirting a small amount of warm water into your ear.
- Follow this up by applying a thin layer of jojoba oil to external areas with a cotton ball.
There is evidence that suggests that herbal medications, when used with traditional therapies, are more effective to treat psoriasis than traditional medicine alone. Extracts from the mahonia bush (Mahonia aquifolium), aloe vera, and indigo naturalis are ingredients regularly used in holistic psoriasis ointments.
For impacted ear canals, doctors can use a small tool to remove the excess skin that’s blocking hearing. Never insert anything into your ear at home. You could damage your eardrum and risk hearing loss.
There are a variety of nonsteroidal medications that can be applied to the skin for more mild forms of psoriasis. Calcipotriol (Dovonex) or a combination of betamethasone and calcipotriene (Taclonex) is often used on the ear.
These medications work by slowing skin growth and flattening existing lesions. They also provide pain and itch relief. It’s important to note that while medications can provide relief of psoriasis symptoms, side effects such as headaches are a common result of many autoimmune suppressing drugs.
Your doctor might prescribe a liquefied steroid formula (e.g., Lidex solution) to be dripped into your ear canal. This medicine can also be applied to the outer skin, depending on the location of the affected area. A steroid is frequently used in combination with other medications for enhanced effectiveness.
Though it is not very common, children and infants can develop psoriasis. Fortunately, this skin condition generally tends to be less severe in children. Most children with psoriasis will develop a few patches that are easily addressed with treatment. However, mild symptoms aren’t always the case. If you notice symptoms such as the ones mentioned here developing around your child’s ear and scalp area, visit your pediatrician for guidance.
Unfortunately, psoriasis is a chronic condition. The good news is that you can find relief with the treatments listed above.
Over time, you may notice that your skin responds adversely to different triggers.
These might include:
- cold or dry weather
- scratches or cuts
Consider keeping a written log to determine which triggers make your skin act up. Then discuss them with your doctor.
Left untreated, psoriasis of the ear can lead to temporary hearing loss and become increasingly uncomfortable. Visit your doctor or dermatologist today, to start your path to relief.
You Asked, We Answered
- What is the difference between psoriasis and eczema?
Psoriasis is a skin disease that occurs when cells in the outer layer of skin reproduce faster than normal and pile up on the skin's surface. This produces scaling and irritation of the skin. Psoriasis isn’t contagious.
Meanwhile, eczema is more of a general term. It encompasses various inflamed skin conditions. One of the most common forms of eczema is atopic dermatitis (or "atopic eczema"). Approximately 10 to 20 percent of the world’s population is affected by this chronic, relapsing, and very itchy rash at some point during childhood. Fortunately, many children with eczema find that the disease clears and disappears with age.- Dr. Steve Kim