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Itchy, infected ears (for years)
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Itchy, infected ears (for years)

Let's start from the beginning. About 3.5 years ago the inside of my ears started to itch. I would try and scratch them, but I could never quite reach the correct place. I've read that a lot of people with itchy ears tend to have dry skin fall out when they scratch, but that never happened with me. Eventually the itching was unbearable, and sweet-smelling fluid started coming out of my ears. Also, when I ate or chewed, my ears would burn like crazy! It felt like the inside of my ears were on fire.

My primary care doctor prescribed me special oil, which didn't help. Then he prescribed me some anti-itch steroids, which sometimes helped but not for more than a month. Finally he gave up and sent me to a specialist (ENT).

The ENT cleaned my ears thoroughly and later told me it could be a fungus, so he prescribed me a special anti-fungal shampoo to drop into my ears and had me continue with the steroids. He later did a culture from my ear and saw that there wasn't any fungus, so I stopped with the shampoo (which made my ears feel worse anyway). He also told me that he couldn't find "an excessive amount of bacteria."  For 2+ years I was using the steroids constantly. So often, in fact, that I ran out of refills on my prescription and often had to go back to my ENT to get it refilled before my designated follow-up appointment.

This all came to a climax about 11 months ago when my ears started to hurt, which was the first time my ears had hurt rather than itched (except for the burning sensation). It hurt so badly in fact that I took myself to the ER in hopes of receiving immediate relief. It turned out I had a severe inner and outer ear infection in both ears. I was prescribed antibiotics and sent home. Finally, for the first time in YEARS, my ears were neither itching nor hurting.

Until a few days ago when my ears started itching AGAIN. It's all the same as last time: itching, not being able to quite reach when I try to scratch, and burning when I chew. Why is this happening again? Am I just extremely prone to ear infections? I do not swim often, and I try to keep my ears dry when I shower. Any ideas of what this could be?


2 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_dr_f_tn
Hi, was eczema ruled out? This can cause intense itching and it can occur in episodes. People who suffer from this disorder should avoid contact with triggering factors like soaps, cosmetics, jewelry, clothing, and detergents. Sometimes sweat, changes in temperature and psychological stress are known to trigger these episodes. It could also be a fungal infection of the external ear. Consult your  primary care physician for therapy. If the need arises he may refer you to a dermatologist.
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Avatar_m_tn
My specialist took a culture from my ear to test it for fungus and couldn't find any. I'm not 100% sure if eczema was exactly ruled out, but very early on my primary care gave me oil to stop the itch that is used to treat eczema in the ears and it didn't help at all. If it is as simple as eczema, I would hope the would have noticed earlier. But I will look into it.
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