Though potentially uncomfortable, ear scabs are common. Ear scabbing can have a number of causes, ranging from popped pimples to bacterial infections.

In most cases, ear scabs are no cause for alarm. However, if they’re recurrent or accompanied with crusting, pain, or bleeding, consider scheduling a visit with your doctor.

Here are some potential causes of ear scabbing.

Piercings

New ear piercings are susceptible to infection. Common symptoms associated with an infected piercing include:

If your piercing begins to bleed, healing will involve a scab to prevent blood and pus from escaping the wound. It’s important to keep this area clean at all times to prevent worsening symptoms and further infection.

If the scab doesn’t go away, seek medical attention. Piercings that don’t heal properly can result in a keloid or a piercing bump that may lead to additional issues.

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a disorder that causes your immune system to attack your skin by mistake. As a result, your skin cells build up on the surface of your skin, causing itchiness, dry patches, and redness. These dry patches can bleed, especially if scratched.

While there is no cure for this condition, your doctor may recommend topical ointments or creams to help alleviate symptoms. If you begin to experience sudden hearing loss, seek immediate medical attention.

Eczema

Eczema is a skin disorder that can appear anywhere on the body, including the ear. It can be extremely painful, causing excessive dryness, soreness, and skin loss. Ear eczema may also produce tiny, itchy bumps and flaking skin. The irritation may drive you to scratch the area, which can worsen your symptoms.

Scratched or inflamed areas on your ear may scab to heal, but eczema will make it difficult for your wounds to completely go away. Your doctor may recommend topical ointment and medication to alleviate symptoms and prevent your skin from flaking.

Popped pimple

Though pimples are most often found on the face, chest, shoulders, and neck, they may also appear on the inside of the ear. As with any pimple, it’s possible for a pimple in the ear to become infected from picking at it or attempting to pop it.

Popped pimples can produce discharge that can settle inside of your ear. The result is a scab that can become irritated over time. If you notice an ear pimple, let it heal on its own — don’t pop it.

If you begin to experience uncomfortable symptoms or if the pimple is affecting your hearing, schedule a visit with your doctor immediately.

Heat rash

A heat rash can also cause scabbing in or around your ear. The rash is caused when your sweat glands become blocked, allowing moisture to be trapped under the skin. As a result, you may experience symptoms including:

  • itchiness
  • irritation
  • bumps
  • crusty or flaking skin
  • redness or inflammation

Unlike some skin disorders that encourage moisture for healing, treating heat rashes involves keeping the affected area dry. More severe cases of heat rash may require prescribed medication.

Ear cancer

Ear cancer is rare and often begins affecting the skin on the outer ear. The causes are unknown, though people who experience chronic ear infections are at a higher risk of developing cancer in the middle portion of the ear.

Symptoms vary depending on which part of the ear is affected. Telltale signs of ear cancer are skin changes, specifically on the outer ear. You may notice symptoms including:

  • scabbed skin that won’t heal
  • wounds that produce excessive fluid
  • dark, textured skin tissue
  • a white scab
  • pain
  • hearing loss
  • weakness in your face

If you notice irregular symptoms in or on the outside of your ear, seek immediate medical attention. Early detection allows doctors to find the best treatment for your condition.

Ear scabbing isn’t uncommon, but it can often be indication of a medical condition or skin disorder.

If you notice your scabs are recurrent or if your wound doesn’t heal, consult your doctor. While ear scabs are often no cause for alarm, your symptoms may turn into a more severe disease.

Don’t self-diagnose or pick at your scabs. With help from your doctor, you can find the best treatment to alleviate your symptoms and provide the best quality of life.