Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors

"What causes ears to itch on the outside?"

ZocdocAnswersWhat causes ears to itch on the outside?


My 6 year old daughter is almost constantly scratching, picking, and tugging at her ears. She can't explain herself too clearly, but I gather that her ears are just very itchy. Why is this happening to her? Are we not cleaning her ears properly?


There are many causes for children to pull on their ears. Luckily, most of these conditions are not medically serious. The physicians who would be well qualified to discuss this issue with you include your pediatrician. The most common cause of discomfort in the ears is likely a build up of ear wax. This can create an uncomfortable pressure sensation. Sometimes cleaning the ears more vigorously is required with a drop medication. Your doctor can look in the ears and let you know. It is important not to put cotton swabs inside the ear canal however as you can damage the inner structures. Another common cause is otitis externa, or 'swimmers ear,' which is an infection of the ear canal. It can be treated with good ear hygiene and medicated drops prescribed by your doctor. Another very common cause is a foreign body inside the ear, such as a pencil erase or a raisin. Your doctor can also determine this by looking inside the ear and seeing an object is present. As always, the diagnosis and the management of your child's specific issue will require a physical examination by your personal physician. Scheduling an office visit with your pediatrician is highly recommended.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.