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Ear Psoriasis: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Last update on May, 31, 2023

You may have heard of psoriasis, a condition that causes irritated skin. But did you know it can occur in your ears as well? Learn more about how this condition affects your ears and discover treatment options to find relief. 

What is psoriasis in the ear?

Psoriasis is a common, chronic skin condition that affects children and adults, categorized by patches of scaly skin that are painful and itchy. Psoriasis in the ears causes a buildup of scaly skin or earwax. The condition is identified by skin redness and round, raised patches of skin covered in white, flaky dead skin (also known as plaques). 

While the exact cause of this autoimmune condition is still unknown, it is characterized by overactivity in the immune system. In psoriasis patients, the immune system attacks its own cells and issues, targeting skin cells, known as keratinocytes. Those skin cells grow and divide faster than they can be shed, causing red, inflamed patches to appear. Psoriasis can be transmitted genetically, meaning that a child whose parents have psoriasis is at a higher risk for developing it as well. Other triggers include high mental stress response, alcohol use and smoking, and certain medications

Where can psoriasis occur on the ear?

Psoriasis in the ears can show up on different parts of the ears. Below are some of the common areas where it appears: 

Psoriasis on the skin behind the ear is identifiable by redness of the scalp and itchy patches. While this might cause self-consciousness, this placement doesn’t typically lead to hearing complications. 

It’s most common for psoriasis to occur inside the ear. Psoriasis in the ear is also categorized by red, itchy or tender patches of skin. In cases of psoriasis in ear canal, it can create blockages that leads to hearing loss (known as conductive hearing loss).

The skin on the outside of the ear can also develop the red and irritated patches characteristic of psoriasis on the ears. At this time, research has not determined the causes of psoriasis developing on some parts of the ears and not others. 
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Psoriasis is one condition in a larger category of skin diseases known as dermatitis. While there are some shared symptoms, identification comes down to how the condition presents itself. In the case of psoriasis, the white, flaky patches of skin appear to be dry, while they will look oilier in other types of dermatitis.

Location is also a determining factor, particularly in seborrheic dermatitis vs psoriasis. Psoriasis is most often found on elbows, knees and around the sacrum (the bony structure that’s at the bottom of the spine and connects to the pelvis). By contrast, seborrheic dermatitis is often found on the scalp or oilier areas of the body. Psoriasis and other kinds of dermatitis can be present at the same time. 

While both conditions present with itchy and inflamed skin, there are major differences when comparing neurodermatitis vs psoriasis. Neurodermatitis is characterized by intense, repetitive itching urges that have a psychological origin, like nervousness, stress and anxiety. In most cases, it occurs on the arms, neck, legs, back, chest and scalp. 

What are the symptoms of psoriasis of the ear?

Psoriasis in ears symptoms are visually identifiable:

These can also be accompanied by intense itchiness in or around the ears. If the psoriasis becomes infected, there might be crusting and oozing around the plaques. 

How can I be diagnosed with ear psoriasis?

In most cases, psoriasis in the ears can be diagnosed with a physical exam to identify and characterize the plaques. Your doctor will also review your medical history to assess your risk for the disease. If these methods don’t offer conclusive results, your doctor might order a skin biopsy to examine the skin cells. If you’re also experiencing vertigo, your doctor might order an MRI to see if there are internal issues. 

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How to treat ear psoriasis

Depending on your symptoms, there are many ear psoriasis treatment options available. Some medications include:

  • Topical creams/ointments: Over-the-counter (OTC) hydrocortisone and ointments can be applied to soothe external itching.
  • Oral antibiotics: These medications can be used if a bacterial infection develops.
  • Light therapy: UVB can be a useful tool in penetrating the skin and slowing the growth of affected skin cells.
  • Shampoos: Antifungal dandruff shampoos can help prevent secondary fungal infections. 
  • Systemic medications: If you experience moderate to severe psoriasis, you might be prescribed a systemic drug to treat symptoms all over your body.

Talk to your doctor to explore your options and determine which solutions will work best for you. 

Outside of prescribed remedies for ear psoriasis, there are natural remedies to treat your ear psoriasis.

  • Aloe vera: Aloe vera soothes skin irritated by psoriasis. Creams containing aloe vera gel can also provide some relief for mild to moderate psoriasis symptoms.
  • Tea tree oil: This natural oil can provide some relief from itching and scratching. Because it is quite strong on its own, tea tree oil is often diluted in another oil(such as olive oil) and then applied to the affected area.
  • Baking soda and water: Baking soda can be a useful in calming the itchiness of psoriasis. Mix 1 tsp of baking soda with a small amount of water to create a paste and apply it to the skin plaques.

These home remedies for psoriasis in the ear might provide some relief from your symptoms, but be sure to talk to your physician before choosing to apply DIY skin treatments. 

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One of the best ways to care for your ears and prevent hearing loss is to get them properly examined by a hearing professional. Find your nearest Miracle-Ear store to get started on your journey to better hearing.

How can ear psoriasis affect your hearing aids?

If you wear hearing aids and have ear psoriasis, you may experience some discomfort while wearing your devices. Depending on the type of hearing aid you wear and where your psoriasis is located, there might be some additional friction or irritation from your devices. If you have discomfort as a result of wearing your hearing aids with ear psoriasis, speak with a hearing care professional at your local Miracle-Ear to find a comfortable solution.

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