Dermatology Community
53.6k Members
Avatar universal

weeping and peeling behind the ears

For several years now I have had constant fluid weeping and peeling behind both of my ears. The fluid that weeps from the area seems to form a layer of "skin-like" flakes which eventually block/stop the weeping. Eventually this layer builds up enough that it is so annoying that I practically have to peel it off, which then starts the weeping process all over again.

I was prescribed a topical steroid (Cutivate) by a derm and told the condition was likely a form of sebborheic dermatitis. It doesn't seem to respond to anti-fungals like tea trea oil and other prescriptions I have tried so I don't think its a fungus. The only thing it has seemed to respond well to is the steroid which eliminates it for about 3-5 days after which it returns just as severely as before. It is completely painless and not noticeable. It's more of a nuisance than anything else, but it would be great if I could completely rid myself of it.

Sebborheic dermatitis hardly even seems like a diagnosis to me. Its like saying, "sir, you have inflammation of the skin". Which is obvious in and of itself from the outset. If I knew that it was eczema or psoriasis or some other specific condition then I could probably have a better shot at treating/curing it.

I have read that topical steroids eventually lose their effectiveness somehow. I guess the body somehow develops a tolerance due to the repeated use. Any other ideas of what it might be or how I can treat it? Should I just keep using the steroid forever?

Chronic inflammation can lead to skin cancer. If the area really is inflamed I should probably due something about it. Oddly though, the area doesn't really even seem to be inflamed since it doesn't burn or hurt to touch. Still, It seems like I should be doing more about it than just let it be.
57 Responses
Avatar universal
Avatar universal
563773 tn?1374250139
Eczema and psoriasis present as red dry patches rather than weeping lesions. Fungal infections are a high possibility. You can get a KOH examination and fungal culture of the fluid done. If it comes positive then you need to use topical and oral antifungals.
It is very difficult to precisely confirm a diagnosis without examination and investigations and the answer is based on the medical information provided. For exact diagnosis, you are requested to consult your doctor. I sincerely hope that helps. Take care and please do keep me posted on how you are doing.

Avatar universal
Dr. Bhupinder Kaur,

Thank you for responding to my post. If my condition is fungal, I am at a loss for what I should use to treat it. At this point it seems like I've tried most of the common anti-fungal shampoos. I've used 2% Nizoral, Loprox 1% (Cicloprox), Tea Tree Oil, Zinc Pyrithione, Coal Tar (Neutragena T-gel). I'm just hoping for some suggestions, so I will be prepared to suggest them to whichever physician I see. Also if it is fungal is it likely that I will have to apply medicines to it for the rest of my life?

Thanks, Andrew
Avatar universal
Came here months ago to see if anyone found any relief. I have had terrible cracked and oozy ears for 8-9 months. Working it's way up the side of my head and over the tops of my ears. Had it once as a teen also, not sure how it went away that time. I have tried all the suggestions here, have a bathroom pantry full of stuff. Went to my GP for my annual check up and mentioned it to her. Asked it it was some sort of psoriasis or something. She said not one like she has ever seen. She said it just looked more irritated and sore than anything. She asked me what I had all tried. She gave me a prescription for a steroid cream called TRIAMCINOLONE 0.1% CREAM. I put it on my ears in the parking lot of the drugstore. Then 2 x a day for 4 days and my ears were 99.8% cleared up. I was so happy my household thought I had hit the lottery. I was going around showing everyone the backs of my ears and they thought I had flipped my lid. I hadn't really shown anyone before because it was so gross so they did not really have a reference.
So I looked up this steroid cream to maybe give me a clue if this was fungal or what and found it treats many things like poison ivy, poison oak, allergic reactions, eczema, and psoriasis. So who knows but It took about 5 days to feel like I was good and I quit using it. All is good. I put a bit on about once every two weeks just to keep the heebie jeebies away though! Hope this helps someone else!
Avatar universal
Avatar universal
I have the exact condition. It has not responded to anything I have tried.
It's currently weeping. doctor also thought fungal but cremes did not work.
Also looking for a cure.
Avatar universal
I have had this condition since I was 6 years old. I am now 37. My first diagnosis - not drying behind my ears well enough. Then - allergic reaction to hair products. Then  - fungus. Then -  seborrheic dermatitis. I have used everything. The only time it was ever cleared up was when I was on heavy doses of steroids for another condition. It came back as soon as I went off the steroids. I came to the conclusion a long time ago that there isn't a doctor/dermatologist that knows exactly what it is. I've just accepted it. Certain hair products do cause it to be worse. Some times my ears bleed. I like to wear a ball cap in the summer exposing as much of behind my ears to the sun as possible and use hydrocortisone cream. It doesn't go away completely, but it looks much better.
Try to stay away from steroids. I used DoTerra geranium oil and it went away about 95% in three weeks. I'm going to continue to use it for another month and I believe it will be all gone.
Avatar universal
Isn't it strange that something like this can't be treated? I wonder if it auto-immune somehow.
Do you have any other dermatologic condition? I also have developed a dermatitis around my eyes. No idea if it is related. I have been tested for allergies and they were negative.

It is WEIRD.

And, for me, it is unsightly, I'm just glad I have long hair, no way I would go around with my ears exposed. It often cracks and is very red and sometimes is bleeding or caked with strange layers of dry skin... NOT attractive.
Yes its very annoying..I have flakes just behind both ears..and it creeps into my ears..I practically pick them off every day, and scrape what I can inside my ears. On the side of my head  when I pick the scales off..they become moist..and is quite painful when I shower..I have only ever tried shampoos like head and shoulders, and tea tree oil based shampoos..which eased the symptoms..am gonna go to a skin specialist soon and see if  they can get to the root of  my condition.
Did you ever resolve this problem? I did. Geranium oil. I used the DoTerra brand. I've used it for three weeks and it's 95% gone. It's all dried up and all I have left are a few flakes. Hope you find relief.
Avatar universal
Hi, My ears do the exact same thing -- weep, dry up leaving a thin papery skin, itchy, - - I scratch - - weep again.  I have recently been diagnosed with an internal candida overgrowth, which my MD says is causing my rashes (my other rashes are the similar but do not weep), so I am on a candida diet, so I shall see if that helps. It is helping my other rashes.    I have also found that diaper cream helps dry it out.
I am currently in same situation - rashes and oozing ears due to candida and possible other bad bacteria in gut.  How are you now?  What is anything has worked for you? Thanks
how do doctors find out it is candida? i have had this problem for months and nothing is working. I have rashes on my face too. I have looked it up and I have all the systems so will be going to doc next week
Avatar universal
I found a cure. Mario Badescu Control Cream. It's a natural anti-inflammatory. WISH doctors would KNOW about it.

GONE in less than 2 weeks. Like it was never there. I've tried everything on it to no avail. This did it. Found it on Amazon. Someone else on one of these forums posted about it working for them and I decided what's one more purchase?

Doctor did patch tests and gave me anti-fungal, hydrocortizone, name it I tried it. Some Soothed some burned some did nothing.

This stuff worked and cured a patch of eczema on my face. And cured my eyelids which have been cracking and peeling.

Worth every penny. Glad I didn't give up.

Raina726, did you use drying lotion?   I'm desperate!
Mario Badescu Control Cream has been removed from the market. Anyone else know of something similar?
Avatar universal
Here's what worked for me so far: I washed it with Head and Shoulders during my shower and apply Neosporin on it for several days. You may want to wash and re-apply the Neosporin one more time during the day. It's been several months since I tried that and now it's not as bad. Even thought it seems like it's gone forever, remember to wash it with Head and Shoulders and apply Neosporin at least every other day. If you don't already have Head and Shoulders, maybe you can get a trial/travel size to test. Good luck.
Have an Answer?
Top Dermatology Answerers
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Learn to identify and prevent bites from summer’s most common pests.
Doctors argue for legislation to curb this dangerous teen trend in the latest Missouri Medicine report.
10 ways to keep your skin healthy all winter long
How to get rid of lumpy fat on your arms, hips, thighs and bottom
Diet “do’s” and “don’ts” for healthy, radiant skin.
Images of rashes caused by common skin conditions