Sore Crusty Outer Ear Infection and Itchiness

Yellow, white, black or even brown flakes around the year can be uncomfortable especially when easily noticeable. Even worse is when these flakes are caused by some crusty ear wax which can be disgusting. Whether they form in the canal, on the ear lobes or behind the ears in an adult or a baby, we will help you identify the possible causes and how to get rid of the crusty outer ear problem.

Crusty Outer Ear

Medicine Net defines the outer ear as the part of the ear that lies along the side of the head and is visible. It consists of the pinna, which is the part protruding on the head, and the ear canal. The pinna, which is also known as the auricle is made of soft tissue and cartilage. As such, a crusty outer ear may refer to dry skin that becomes scaly on any part of the visible ear structure. Other people will simply refer to the skin problem as crusty ears, crusty behind ears, on the ear lobe, edges or from wax buildup. We explore the causes and remedies for the same.

Causes of Crusty Outer Ear

Dry crusty outer ear skin, which may at times also be sore, can be as a result of environmental factors or different skin conditions. In most cases, home remedies will take cae of the problem but in case the crusty skin gets infected and starts weeping or becomes so sore and painful, a visit to the doctor is eminent.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

Although this condition which is also referred to as dandruff is most common on the scalp and other hairy parts of the skin such as eyebrows, it can also occur on the ear. It carries various symptoms that lead to crusty skin. The affected skin will become itchy, sore and sensitive. It may appear red and form some greasy flakes. The condition is likely to affect the skin fold at the back of the ear as well as the ear canal resulting in inflammation and a yellow crusty ear.
Crusty ears as a result of seborrheic dermatitis may occur in case of an oily skin, reaction to cosmetic and hair products as well as neurologic conditions.


Also referred to as atopic dermatitis, eczema is most common in people with a genetic predisposition to asthma and hay fever. Environmental factors also add to the skin condition. The condition makes the skin overly itch and dry. It is most common in babies and toddlers but could occur in grownups too.

The skin problem tends to clear up but will likely flare up in when there is skin inflammation. In extreme cases, the skin around the ears may blister and start weeping. The area behind the skin is a regular culprit as the issue normally manifests around skin folds.

Crusty Outer Ear from Allergic Reaction

Another reason why you may experience a crusty outer ear is an allergic reaction. Such reactions occur when the skin is exposed to allergens in the environment or when it comes into contact with irritants. When exposed to these substances, the body reacts by triggering the production histamines. At this point, the immune system will have reacted excessively to harmless substances. A rash, swelling and inflammation then follow which may develop into flaky skin on the ears. 

Allergic reactions on the outer ear may be caused by hair care products such as dyes ad shampoos, tips of spectacles, and earrings among others. The skin around the affected area will be red, itchy and swollen. With time, it will become dry and rough thus appear crusty.

Scalp Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic skin inflammation that mostly affects the scalp, elbows and knees. At times. The condition may spread to areas close to the affected part. In the case of scalp psoriasis, the condition could spread to behind the ears, the neck and forehead. When this happens, thick red crusts that are itchy and at times accompanied by a rash that forms on your ears.

Wax Buildup

The role of earwax is to collect dirt, dead skin cells, oils, and foreign bodies so as to prevent the inner ear from harm. When the wax dries up, it becomes flaky and can be seen when it accumulates without timely removal. This could be the cause for your crusty outer ear.

You can easily get rid of it by wiping it off using a damp cotton swab. Only rub the exterior part of the ear as inserting swabs into the ear will only push the wax back inside the ear. You could also harm your ear drum when you insert things into the internal structure.

Crusty Outer Ear Dry Skin

Dry skin around the ears can result from a number of things. In normal circumstances, the skin produces sebum to keep it moisturized, soft and supple. Also, skin care products aid in maintaining a healthy skin. At times environmental factors and skin issues may strip the skin off this important sebum leaving it unprotected against dryness. As a result, white dry patches and an itchy crusty outer ear may result.

How to Get Rid of Crusty Outer Ears

Treating crusty ears aims at addressing the causes to prevent recurrence and easing the symptoms. For painful, excessively sore, and infected crusty ears, you may have to seek professional immediately before it gets worse. Below are various options that can be used to treat the skin problem.

1. Medicated Shampoos

Though not necessarily targeted for the ears, using medicated shampoos can help eliminate skin orders that spill over from the scalp such as seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis. Shampoos containing Ketoconazale are great.

2. Corticosteroids

These are appropriate for crusty outer ear that has inflammation. Corticosteroid creams and ointments will aid in controlling the resulting irritation and restore normal skin appearance. However, they should not be used for too long as they make the skin thin out.

3. Antifungal or Antibacterial Creams

These will work great at treating crusty skin that results from either bacterial or fungal infection. In addition to clearing the crusting, the creams help to prevent further infection by fighting off microorganisms.

4. Tea Tree Oil

This oil is a natural antiseptic. It is quite beneficial to the skin. Dilute it with a carrier oil and apply it on the affected part for its healing properties.

5. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is an ancient remedy for a host of skin maladies. It will fight off inflammation, soothe the crusty outer ear and heal any infections.

6. Baking Soda

Baking soda controls the pH of the skin and can help get rid of excess bacteria around the ears. It also exfoliates the skin and will help to dislodge the crusts stuck on the skin.



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