It makes sense really when you think about it. If you have eczema on your body then you could have it inside your ear. It’s very frustrating because you can’t get to it to apply moisturiser and you can’t scratch it! The latter actually being no bad thing.
Since starting Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW), I noticed that my ears had been getting completely blocked and also painful, which could be a sign that there’s an infection. This happened during year one and the beginning of year two of my TSW healing.
Sometimes being very itching inside the ear can also be a sign of an infection. Always get this checked out by a doctor. This happened three times during TSW so I’ve written my very own tips on what do:
- Visit your doctor or GP – If you have prolonged pain or smelly discharge from your ears, there could be an infection. The discharge from my ears smelt gross, kind of like yeast, sort of bovril or marmite smell. Ewwww. An ear infection should always be treated seriously so go to the doctor and ask for some swabs to be taken to test first. Be very wary of any medication as the bog standard ear treatments they give contain steroids. My doctor diagnosed ‘otitis externa’ which basically means an outer ear inflammation or infection – the part of the ear channel that gets air on it I guess! She didn’t think it was actually infected, just that it looked like it had eczema on the skin inside the ear. Sadly the first thing she suggested to treat this was steroid ear drops. I didn’t want to use these but there wasn’t anything else on offer. I managed to refuse the steroid drops, after much discussion and promised to return the following week if things hadn’t improved. She had told me that as well as steroids, the ear drops she wanted to prescribe had acetic acid in them which is basically vinegar. So I told her I’d try using just apple cider vinegar at home. Read Apple cider vinegar to treat ear infection.
- Olive oil ear drops in a spray – I had been using olive oil drops which had been improving things slowly. It certainly can’t do any harm and is the easiest solution to try first. I got a spray dispensing product from the chemist which makes it much easier to administer but you could just try to get a few drops of olive into your ear, sit with your head on one side for about 10 minutes, then do the other ear. Have tissues or cotton wool handy to mop up excess oil spillage afterwards. I used Earol olive oil spray and you can get one with tea tree in it too, made for swimmers but also perfect for TSW gunged ears.
- Tea tree oil – I started adding drop of tree oil, but make sure you dilute this into a carrier oil as the skin in your ear is very sensitive and it could sting or burn. Always patch test before using if you’ve not used it before. You should find neat tea tree oil in most chemists and also at health food stores. I don’t know if some brands are better than others but the plant grows in Australia so I usually get the Aussie stuff! You can also buy it on Amazon, and if you use this link to buy tea tree oil or anything else, I get a tiny bit of commission, which helps me keep this blog running – Australian Tea Tree Oil 10ml
- Get hold of a small bottle with pipette dropper of spray dispenser – I found one I could refill and now I make my own ear healing mix when I need to.
- Bicarbonate of soda ear treatment – This is probably the thing that helped the most, but you need to do the olive oil treatment first to soften and loosen the stuff that’s adhered to the sides and stuck together. This one just takes all the credit because the feeling when you do it is incredible. I don’t know if you could make this yourself as it come as a clear liquid. To use it, you drop/spray in a few sprays and hold your head on its side for ten minutes. Then when you’re done, get some cotton wool or a balled tissue and use your finger to sort of plunge the ear, like a sink plunger. It sounds mad but this seems to agitate the stuff sticking up your ear and it all comes pouring out. Some gross stinky stuff came out of my ears! Ewwww. But the relief was instant and such a relief. I used Otadrop and it was brilliant. The third time my ears blocked up with TSW skin and ooze this stuff cleared it without me needing to go to the Ear clinic.
- Balmonds rosehip scar oil – I also used this, I was so desperate at some points in time. This oil is a lovely mix of essential oils that are completely safe to put in your ear and I think it helped my ears heal up after I’d managed to clear them. Use Promo code WHATALLERGY for 20% off.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – I tried this when the doctor had told me my ear might be infected and the only solution was this steroid ear drop, which I refused. I think it helped as I had a horrible smell gunge and ooze coming out and now my ears smell completely clean and of nothing at all.
- Check out your local ear clinic – Where I live the NHS no longer offer ear syringing or cleaning. It’s something you need to go privately for. I found a local Ear Wax Removal and Microsuction clinic. They were so amazingly kind. They were really shocked and had never seen ears so stuffed up like mine… they were a bit worried but went really gently and managed to clear them enough for me to be able to hear again. It blocked up again and the next time I went they said it had healed so well and was much less inflamed and easier to clear out. I only had to get this done twice and last one was just days before lockdown. Boy am I grateful I managed to get that done or I’d have gone mad being so deaf. Thank you so much to the staff at Chalfont Hearing.
- DO NOT insert cotton wool buds – This is really dangerous. I know it will feel like you need to and it can be insanely itchy but don’t be tempted. You can do a lot of damage doing this.
- Buy cotton wool balls – I used these to soak in the Rosehip oil and tea tree oil mix and I could them safely plug my ear and help to heal the outer ear area. I mean I was deaf anyway so it didn’t stop me hearing. You could also do this at night so that your ears get an intensive treatment.
What you should expect
The dry skin flakes fall off your body during washing and exfoliation but inside your ear it can quickly build up. When it starts to go through TSW and heal it’s pretty intensive. The amount of flakes and ooze and gunge coming out of my ears was A LOT. I never used steroids in my ears, never. Although possible I did have ear drops a few times which judging by the doctor’s appointment I had, probably had steroids in them without me knowing.
Check ALL ear drops and treatments offered by any doctor for steroids ask them to confirm it’s steroid free. Don’t use it if it has steroids in it.
It makes me very sad, why are steroids the first line of treatment when these natural solutions can sort things?
Has anyone else had blocked and painful ears during TSW?
NB. This is not medical advice. I am not a doctor. Please seek professional medical advice if you suspect an infection.
What else could itchy ears mean?
If the inside of your ears itch it can be a sign of seasonal allergies. So if you have hay fever or are allergic to grass, pollens etc. this could be a side effect. So if it’s not infection this could explain things.