Do you know why your inner ear is so susceptible to itching? It’s because this hidden region of the body is rich in nerve endings. Being unable to scratch an itch is really annoying and frustrating, right? If you’ve had an itchy inner ear, you know what we’re talking about. Let’s discover what can cause itchy inner ear, especially in menopause, and what you can do about it.
What is itchy inner ear?
The ear is much more than the outer part (pinna) that you see on the sides of your head. As sound waves approach the pinna, the vibrations travel down the external auditory canal until they reach the eardrum, which vibrates. The vibrations move to the middle ear, where there are three tiny bones that amplify the sound.
The middle ear is also where the Eustachian tube links the middle ear with the back of the nose. This tube is lined with mucous and helps equalize the pressure in the middle ear. From the middle ear the sound waves travel to the inner ear where the hearing organ called the cochlea is located. There are also receptors for balance in the inner ear.
Itchy inner ear can occur for several reasons besides menopause. One is swimmer’s ear, which is a common infection that is associated with itchiness and ear pain. Another is a fungal infection called otomycosis, which may involve partial hearing loss and tinnitus. The common cold also may have itchy inner ear as a symptom, and the itchiness may be associated with an inflamed throat. Wax buildup is another known cause.
A few other causes of itchy inner ear include chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema, as well as allergies like hay fever, food allergies, and reactions to shampoos and conditioners. People who wear hearing aids may experience itchy inner ear.
How is itchy inner ear associated with menopause?
Estrogen promotes water retention. However, as estrogen levels decline, it can cause the mucus membranes in your inner ear to become drier. This can lead to itchy inner ear, as well as earache, hot ears, and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
Itchy inner ear in perimenopause and menopause also can occur because of a lack of earwax (cerumen). This is common during these phases of life and causes the ears to become dry and itchy.
How to manage itchy inner ears naturally
Some of the first things you may feel like doing when your ears itch is to stick your fingers, cotton buds, ear picks, bobby pins, or other similarly-shaped objects into your ear canal. Don’t do it! You risk damaging your ear canal or ear drum as well as pushing any ear wax further back into your inner ear.
Instead, try these natural remedies.
- Dry inner ear may get relief by adding a drop of olive oil or baby oil into the ear canal.
- A drop or two of 70% rubbing alcohol in the ears may relieve itching
- If you believe excess wax buildup is the problem, you can use a few drops of hydrogen peroxide or ear oil in your ear to loosen the wax. If this does not work, see your doctor for a professional ear flush or use an at-home irrigation kit.
- If the itch is caused by a bacterial or fungal infection, a 50:50 mixture of white vinegar with water can be used as drops several times a day.
- For ears that are moist and itchy, a 50:50 mixture of white vinegar and rubbing alcohol can dry out the ear and relieve the itch. This includes swimmer’s ear.
- For itchy ears associated with allergies, butterbur, quercetin, stinging nettle, or vitamin C supplements may help.
- Omega-3s like our Morphus Omega 3-T also decrease inflammation and help keep cellular membranes strong. This can help with itchy ears, as well.
When to call your doctor
If your itchy ears have become severe or are affecting your daily activities, or you are experiencing other problems such as dizziness or earache along with the itching, contact your doctor. You may need an examination and possible ear irrigation.
Itchy inner ear is a common symptom among women in perimenopause and menopause. It typically can be treated without a doctor’s care and may eventually resolve on its own.