Crusty Ears Causes, Symptoms, with Discharge and Treatment

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If you have ever suffered from crusty ears, then you can attest that this health condition does not only cause discomfort, but it is also very embarrassing. This is a common health condition characterized by dry and flaky ears. Having it is a sign of a skin condition such as seborrheic dermatitis.

Therefore, this condition may be a primary symptom of a serious skin condition or a simple skin rash. This skin condition may affect both the external and internal regions of the ear and can be a psychological bother to the victims, as this condition comes along with extreme itching.

In most instances, one has to scratch the itching ears in public. Therefore, it is advisable to see a dermatologist when the itching and dryness prolong.


Like any other region of the skin, the ears can get rashes and may be crusty and you are likely to see the following symptoms:

  • The affected region may have spots, tiny bumps and blistering, especially on the rear or backside. In most cases, the blisters are characterized by prolonged pain, itching and irritation. This irritation causes the blisters to be fluid-filled.
  • Some pimples may also be noted in the surrounding areas. Within a few days, the pimples become numerous in number. The pimples are also severely itchy.
  • The areas affected by the rash appear swollen. Within a few days, the rash may turn reddish or pinkish. This red or pink color is as a result of skin irritation.
  • In severe cases, victims may get extreme fever and vomiting. However, itching is the primary continuous symptom you may note.


No single factor can be noted to be the cause. If you are having this problem, then, this might be a fungal or bacterial infection. In other instances, the rash may be an indication of a serious health condition. Cleaning the auditory canal regularly and vigorously can also cause them to dry and become crusty. Below are some of the possible causes:

  • Dermatitis– Your ear might be reacting to an allergic chemical that it was exposed to. As a result of this reaction, it is likely to become inflamed, itchy and red. Reducing exposure to the substance causing the irritation reduces the allergic reaction. In other instances, the use of antibiotics may reduce the itching and consequently heal the allergy.
  • Eczema– This is a common skin disorder that may spread even to the ears. Eczema causes itching, rashes, inflammation and redness in the affected regions. If you are experiencing these symptoms, then you can’t rule out having an eczema infection.
  • Diverse Infections– Being an external body organ, your ears are exposed to many disease-causing organisms such as viruses, bacteria, and fungus. These organisms, in some instances, may cause infections that result in some of the symptoms we have noted. Piercing your ears or putting earbuds may also introduce these organisms, thus causing infections.
  • Presence of Heat Rashes– When exposed to extreme heat, the sweat glands get blocked. Consequently, the skin is not able to excrete moisture and sweat. As a result of the accumulated sweat and moisture, the skin becomes itchy, red, flaky and crusty.
  • Measles Infection– Measles victims usually suffer from increased fever and skin irritation. Skin rashes that are associated with measles are always experienced behind the ears and on the forehead.
  • Extreme Dry Skin– When your skin is dehydrated; it is likely to get crusty. Skin dryness comes along with scaling, itching, and inflammation. People who have dry skins, therefore, are more susceptible to flaking than those with oily skins.
  • Middle ear infections– Some viral and bacterial infections in the middle ear are manifested in the external parts. These infections come along with chills, fever, redness of the skin, scaling and severe inflammation. All these symptoms are witnessed in the external areas.

Crusty ear with discharge

Crusty ear discharge is also known as crusty earwax. The discharge precedes most infections. Infections in the auditory canal or the middle ear are mainly manifested can result in crusty discharges. Later, these infections are manifested in the external regions. The common manifestation of these infections is a rash characterized by severe itching.

Crusty on cartilage

As you have noted in the above subtopics infections mainly targets the outer ear which consists of cartilage and auditory canal. This cartilage is surrounded by a thin layer known as perichondrium. This perichondrium forms the largest part that is targeted by a skin rash. The perichondrium becomes red with a lot of pain and swelling. It also becomes very itchy and crusty.

Crusty inside canal

In some extreme cases, the infection moves beyond the external ear and to the auditory canal resulting in the crusty ear canal. The auditory canal becomes dry following the emergence to blisters and rashes. The canal also becomes severely itchy. In most cases, it is itchier than the outer ear. The victims find themselves pushing objects or other substances inside the canal in an attempt to ease the itching.


This is not only a medical issue but also an embarrassment. If you have been having crusty ears, it is advisable to seek medical help promptly. Below are some of the treatments and precautions that provide relief:

  • Use of topical antibiotics
  • Use of oral antibiotics and antifungal
  • Avoidance of harsh soaps as a home remedy
  • Regularly moisturizing the skin
  • Wearing light clothes that do not irritate the infected region area
  • Use of icepacks to ease the irritation
  • Washing the infected region with medicated shampoos
  • Use of humidifiers
  • Reduce heat exposure as it increases the irritation
  • Use of phototherapy
  • Having sufficient time to rest
  • Use of OTC lotions
  • Intake of huge amounts of water
  • Use of eardrops


As always noted, prevention is better than cure. Having crusty ears is likely to ruin most of your days. Therefore, practicing the following measures may significantly help in preventing it:

  • Always keep them dry
  • Use rubbing alcohol to clean your ears after swimming
  • Take caution when cleaning the outer areas. Use a gentle piece of cloth
  • Keep off from dirty water especially when swimming
  • Always keep your auditory canal from soap and shampoo to avoid irritation
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