Can You Have Eczema in Your Ear?
There are many types of eczema, but the most common type is atopic dermatitis (AD). AD is caused by a combination of environmental factors such as allergens and genetics. Some people have no symptoms while others develop itchy rashes or sores. Most cases go away on their own without treatment, but some may require medication like antibiotics or steroids.
Some people with AD do not experience any problems when they shower or bathe. Others may get itchy skin rash if exposed to certain things, like dust mites, mold spores, pollen or other irritants. Other times people may develop a severe form called atopic dermatitis (AD) which causes itching and burning sensation all over the body. People with AD are prone to developing infections such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.
They are also more likely to suffer from allergies and asthma attacks.
People with AD are usually diagnosed after they show signs of trouble breathing, difficulty swallowing, fatigue and weight gain. Sometimes doctors will use blood tests to confirm the diagnosis. If you have AD, your doctor may prescribe medications to treat it. These include medicines like antihistamines or cortisone creams for pain relief.
You might also need surgery to remove infected skin lesions and drain pus from them. Surgery is sometimes needed even if there is no sign of infection yet.
Sometimes people with eczema experience more severe symptoms. These include:
Blisters and open sores
Hives or nettle rash
Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits or groin
Most cases of eczema go away without treatment, or will clear up after a few years. Severe cases may last longer or come back often.
Without treatment, severe symptoms may get worse. This includes when the skin is severely dry, thick or cracked and is very itchy. You may also develop infected sores that ooze, have a yellow pus and are very painful.
If you have severe symptoms, your doctor will probably prescribe a steroid cream, ointment or lotion to treat the rash and relieve the itching. These creams should never be used for a long time because they may cause side effects such as thin skin, infection or high blood pressure.
If you develop an infection with your eczema, you may need antibiotics to treat it.
In rare cases, people with severe eczema may have trouble breathing because the condition affects the inside of the nose and throat. In these cases, they may need an inhaler or steroid pills.
Steroid creams and ointments are very effective at relieving the symptoms of eczema. However, they cannot be used for long periods of time because they may cause thinning of the skin and infection. If you use them for long periods of time you may need to supplement with a non-steroid cream.
People with severe eczema or who have frequent relapses may be referred to a dermatologist. A dermatologist is a doctor that treats skin conditions and can prescribe stronger medication for eczema. They also perform skin biopsies to identify the most effective treatment plan, which may include light therapy.
Light therapy involves sitting in front of a special light box, similar to one used for Seasonal Affective Disorder, for at least 30 minutes every day in the morning. It is thought that this type of light may reduce the over-stimulation of cells, which causes the rash and other symptoms.
If light therapy works for you, you should notice an improvement in your eczema within a few weeks. You should continue light therapy for at least five months to prevent relapse. Some doctors may also prescribe an antihistamine or a steroid pill to be taken alongside light therapy.
Sources & references used in this article:
Nickel sensitization in adolescents and association with ear piercing, use of dental braces and hand eczema by CG Mortz, JM Lauritsen… – Acta dermato …, 2002 – researchgate.net
Early-life exposure to outdoor air pollution and respiratory health, ear infections, and eczema in infants from the INMA study by I Aguilera, M Pedersen, R Garcia-Esteban… – Environmental …, 2013 – ehp.niehs.nih.gov
Contact sensitization to common haptens is associated with atopic dermatitis: new insight by JP Thyssen, A Linneberg, K Engkilde… – British Journal of …, 2012 – Wiley Online Library
Titanium dioxide nanoparticles aggravate atopic dermatitis-like skin lesions in NC/Nga mice by R Yanagisawa, H Takano, K Inoue… – Experimental …, 2009 – journals.sagepub.com
Rutin suppresses atopic dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis by JK Choi, SH Kim – Experimental Biology and Medicine, 2013 – journals.sagepub.com