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Scaly Itchy Ears
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Scaly Itchy Ears

I have been having this issue with my ears for almost a decade now. I have gone to the doctors, but they have been no help. This initially started after getting my ears pierced. They were infected within the 2 hours it took to get home and as soon as I got home I began taking care of them exactly as I had been told. That is what triggered this to begin with and I don't see any reason that it would continue if it were a normal infection from piercing ears. (I haven't wore a single earring in over 6 years because of this issue.) Not to mention I've tried everything that has been suggested for new piercing with no luck. My ears will flare up fairly often. If I can go 3 days without a flare-up I am happy. They get a scaly skin on the back of the ear and it sometimes will travel back toward, or into, the hair line and down my neck. These scales will begin to secrete some kind of liquid if the infection doesn't go away within about 2 days. Sometimes it starts to weep within a few hours of it first appearing, though. When it is really bad, the crusties will turn yellow and my ear lobes (or ear, depending on the position of the infection) will feel like they are falling off because the flesh will begin to tear and separate from the rest of the skin. One thing that has remained consistent throughout this whole issue is that water makes it worse. I have to try keeping water away from them because even the time it takes to take a shower sometimes makes it start to make the skin pus, start to separate, or create an open lesion.

I have tried cleaning it with many things over the years. I have tried peroxide, baking soda, tea tree oil, rubbing alcohol, vinegar, various lotions (such as cetaphil), and Hydrocortisone cream. None of this has worked. The hydrocortisone cream was prescribed by a doctor as my 'last chance' to figure out what is wrong. I had also been presrcribed some other type of cream that I can't remember the name of... I think it started with an I. It was also a steroid cream and didn't work.) Normally they would simply tell me to talk to someone who pierces ears and take care of it the way they say to take care of freshly pierced ears, but hello, this had been almost ten years and I already have talked to enough piercers (and had other piercings that turned out great) and tried everything they can come up with, with no results. The hydrocortisone cream did nothing at best. It did, on occasion, spread the nastiness to cover more of my skin. I have tried keeping water away from it by gently wiping it away every time my ears get wet, but that can only help so much and will not stop this from coming on. It is very difficult to remove the water when it is super irritated because of the pain and I do fear introducing bacteria.

I almost forgot to mention that the doctors suggested using dandruff shampoo, but I have always used dandruff shampoo and it does nothing for this. It took a lot to get the little advice from them that I did because they always just want to get me to leave. They care too much about getting their patients out of their hair until they can go home and I can't get to another town to see another doctor about this.

Does anybody know what I can try for this?
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5 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_dr_f_tn
Hello and hope you are doing well.

The symptoms described by you could be due a skin disorder called eczema. This itches so much that all the scratching makes it look like 'shoe leather' (or 'elephant hide'). 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. So, the best way to prevent attacks is to identify those substances which you are allergic to and avoid them.

So, Allergy testing would be worth looking into. And treatment is with cortisone based creams, which need to be very potent and of increased strength to heal the lesions. Apply constantly plenty of good moisturizing creams and alternate with steroid creams. Use a humidifier in the rooms to avoid dryness.

Hope this helped and do keep us posted.
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Avatar_f_tn
Thank you. I have been diagnosed with eczema. I was 6 or 7 years old when I was first diagnosed, but it was years before this problem came up so I wasn't connecting the two.

I have been wanting to do an allergy test because my allergies are so bad. I think I am super allergic to dust, which is very difficult to get rid of enough for t to not bother me. I was kind of wondering if I had tangled with something I was allergic to just before this last time that it flared it. I wasn't sure if the ears thing could be triggered by an allergy though, since it is not commonly known as an allergic reaction.

My allergies have gotten so bad in the past that I had to go the local doctor and ask for something, anything, to make it stop. I had post nasal drip so badly that I would hurl up a TON of mucous. My eyes water and itch, and my throat will just hurt when my allergies get bad. (That is why I have been thinking about doing an allergy test.) I was born with asthma so when I run into allergens it makes it more difficult for me to break rather quickly. I constantly feel like I have crud in my lungs. (I went to the doctors here for that as well and they claim there's nothing there.... but then again the doctors here also have been known to need the patient to point out an obvious break in an x-ray and they misdiagnosed my mother with shingles when really she was on the verge of kidney failure. I mean come on, they could have at least done a pee test for her, but no. Instead she just got poked twice and told, "You've got shingles." So maybe there is crud in my lungs, since that's what if feels like.)
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Avatar_f_tn
The more I think about this the more it makes sense. When this first started it was just after we had stopped using a humidifier and I think I know why the ear piercing triggered it. All of my other piercings I got elsewhere because they were more professional. We had been questioning the whole time if the earring they had initially pierced my ears with where really of the grade of metal they claimed it was. Now that I have had other piercings I am more certain that it wasn't. I am allergic to cheap metal. Even a lot of bracelets I have to be careful about the size of the snaps. I try to get the smallest snaps possible and if it's a hot day I don't wear any because the second I start to sweat I will end up with a pink and red bumpy mark in the shape of the snap.
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Avatar_f_tn
FYI - I have had eczema most of my life and within the last year or so, I found out that I have a dairy and gluten intolerance so since cutting out dairy and gluten I've noticed a HUGE difference with my skin issues.  I noticed you also mentioned post nasal drip and mucous and that also disappeared with a dairy and GF diet.  I recently started eating dairy and gluten and guess what, my rashes & mucous are back!  I need to get back to my diet.  Anyway, I do hope you'll consider what I had to say in the event you're still having these issues.  
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Avatar_dr_f_tn
Hello and hope you are doing well.

Understand your predicament. The rash could be due to contact dermatitis, that is exposure to an irritant like a chemical or metal or anything you are allergic to, it can cause rash. Looks like your allergic responses are causing rash, Allergic Rhinitis & Asthma. Consult an allergy specialist. First he may do a blood IgE levels to see if they are raised. Next, he will do skin testing. This test is painless, in which a very small amount of certain allergens are pricked into the surface of your skin. If you have allergies, just a little swelling will occur where the allergen was introduced.  Reactions occur within about 15 minutes.  If needed more sensitive intradermal tests will be used in which a small amount of allergen is injected within the skin. Based on this he may plan for immunotherapy.

Hope this helped and do keep us posted.
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