Dandruff in the ears: why does it appear, how to treat it?

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 16.04.2020

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Everyone knows about dandruff on their heads; most people have experienced this scourge, as they say, on their own skin. However, skin cells exfoliate and peel off over the entire body, so white scales can appear everywhere. Ears - one of the favorite locations for peeling. With hair, everything is more or less clear. How to deal with dandruff in the ears?


According to various sources, from dandruff affects from 20% to one third of humanity. The statistics take into account children from 12 years old. Especially often dandruff is disturbed by dandruff, which are in the process of puberty.

  • Even completely healthy people who monitor their appearance are not immune from this unpleasant phenomenon and cosmetic deficiency.

At the same time, there is much less data on dandruff in the ears. It is known that there is a genetic predisposition and that the probability of ear dandruff is significantly higher in those whose parents had similar problems.

Statistics claim that the presence of dandruff does not depend on the amount and color of hair, skin. True, on fair hair, “snowflakes” are less noticeable. It is also calculated that dandruff is more common in men than in the female part of the population.

Causes of the dandruff in the ears

A competent doctor conducts treatment in such a way as to eliminate not only dandruff in the ears, but also all the reasons for its relapse. The list of reasons why ear dandruff is formed takes more than one line.

  • One of the most commonplace is the neglect of personal hygiene, as well as the mismatch of soap or shampoo with the type of skin and hair.

An imbalance in the diet, especially a deficiency of important vitamins and minerals, metabolic disorders, hormonal disruptions in adolescents and pregnant women are also poorly reflected on the skin.

Dandruff in the auricles can signal an allergic reaction - to ticks living in pillows, to cosmetics, household chemicals, and jewelry. People with a congenital predisposition are especially prone to allergies. Peeling may be due to diseases of the digestive organs and liver.

Sometimes the ears become the localization of boils, which provoke peeling and dandruff; it can also occur with inflammation of the middle ear. The cause is also excessive dryness of the skin.

Of course, dandruff, even in such a delicate place, does not pose a threat to health. However, scaly nasty-looking accumulations not only spoil the mood, but can also lead to the formation of sulfur plugs in the ears. And traffic jams impair hearing, cause tinnitus and general discomfort.

Why does dandruff form in my ears?

The reasons why dandruff forms in the ears can only be determined by a doctor - after collecting a history and examining the patient. If its appearance is caused by some kind of disease, then the person is sent to a specific specialist. The patient himself may be mistaken and not understand the causes of the unpleasant phenomenon. Moreover, it is difficult to see the full picture: remember the well-known saying about the ears and the mirror. Therefore, self-medication for dandruff in the ears should not be practiced.

  • The causes of dandruff are different, sometimes conditions favorable for dandruff are created by a complex of causes. Often, scattering of scales in the ear is a logical “continuation” of dandruff on the head.

Dandruff is formed due to the use of inappropriate shampoo, poor-quality cosmetics that provoke allergies, improper lifestyles: stress, physical inactivity, the use of harmful foods and drinks. Too fatty foods, an abundance of sweets in the diet are very poorly reflected on the skin. Auricles may also be affected.

Dandruff accompanies various pathological conditions of the skin: fungal infections (Malassezia spp),  [1], [2] seborrheic dermatitis , dry eczema, psoriasis,  atopic dermatitis , contact dermatitis, inflammation, furunculosis; may be due to endocrine, digestive and nervous disorders. In difficult cases, a consultation of several specialists may be necessary to make a diagnosis and clarify the reasons. [3], [4]

Risk factors

If there is a history of dandruff in the ears, then under favorable conditions it can reappear. The risk group includes people using hearing aids. To prevent an unpleasant phenomenon, you should regularly treat the device and bury ears with special drops.

  • One of the risk factors is the popular ear buds.

Otolaryngologists warn that the sticks destroy the epithelium and the natural lubricant that forms in the ear canals. And this, in turn, creates a favorable environment for the appearance of dandruff scales.

The dandruff contributes to the cold, from which it is necessary to protect yourself with headgear, as well as water; to prevent the ingress of fluid into the ears during water procedures, use a bathing cap. If inflammation occurs in or near the ear, they must be treated promptly and effectively. Otherwise, peeling in this area is inevitable. And untreated dandruff is fraught with mycosis, in which the fungus penetrates into deeper tissues.

  • Untidy people, as well as lovers of using other people's accessories (headphones, earplugs) are very at risk.

At risk are workaholics and perfectionists who ignore rest and timely nutrition, as well as undergoing constant stress. A balanced diet, the alternation of work and active leisure, a sufficient amount of high-quality drinking - these simple measures strengthen the body and gradually remove it from the risk zone.


It is believed that the pathogenesis of dandruff is associated with a high sensitivity of the human immune system to certain types of fungi. However, despite the fungal nature of dandruff in the ears, it is not contagious. After all, such fungi are present in all people, including those who are absolutely healthy.

  • Dandruff is formed with increased activity of the sebaceous glands producing sebum. Therefore, she chose places where the sebaceous glands are concentrated.

The head, ear canals are just such zones. With the activation of the process, colonies of fungal microorganisms that feed on this product grow faster, accumulate and form characteristic dandruff peeling.

There is also dry dandruff, which occurs with hypofunction of the sebaceous glands. At the same time, the process of desquamation of dead cells is also disturbed, tightness, irritation, severe itching are felt on the skin. When combing the head on the clothes dry "snowflakes" fall.

Ear dander is similar to a crust in the ear canal and may seem like a local problem. However, treatment should be carried out not only local, but also the whole body. This should be done immediately to prevent complications, including hearing loss.

Symptoms of the dandruff in the ears

Often, dandruff in the ears is confused with the usual roughness of the skin. It happens that distinguishing these pathologies visually, only by symptomatology, is not easy. In such cases, you need to seek qualified help - to a dermatologist or trichologist. They probably know that seborrheic scales are localized primarily where there is hair: on the eyebrows, head, in the ear.

If we talk about the symptoms, then with dandruff they are as follows.

  • Usually not only the ear canal and the conch are affected, but also the area of the skin behind the ear. The fungus can spread to the lobe and even to the eardrum.
  • Dandruff looks like white or yellowish flakes.
  • Scales exceed normal peeling and cause itching.
  • Itches and burns constantly or periodically.
  • Dryness is felt in the ear, the presence of an allegedly foreign body, the surface in the affected area turns red.
  • With otitis media, it blocks the ear and hearing is impaired.

Symptoms differ depending on the causes and type of seborrhea. When oily, oily is observed, the scales are as if covered with an oily film. Dead flakes are dense and thick, yellowish.

These are only the main symptoms. If peeling is associated with other diseases, their list can expand significantly. To clarify the diagnosis, a smear from the ear canal is examined for the presence of otomycosis.

Dandruff is considered not a disease, but a symptom of various diseases. If in the problem area begins increased dryness, itching and redness, then we can talk about the first signs of the disease. The skin is irritated by substances that are formed in connection with the activity of fungi that live on the scalp. Microorganisms break down fats, and some people are especially sensitive to their metabolic products.

Dandruff in the ears can also be accompanied by pain, a partial decrease in hearing acuity. With such symptoms, you should immediately consult an otolaryngologist who will determine the cause or refer to another specialized specialist.

Dandruff forms on the ear for the same reasons as on the head. Covers the auditory canal, conch, skin area behind the ear. Subsequently, the flakes exfoliate, peel off and constantly crumble onto clothes.

  • With oily dandruff, the skin glistens - due to increased secretion of fat, forming a film and clogging pores.
  • When dry, small dandruff forms, and the disease can be accompanied by various infections.
  • With a mixed form, the symptoms of both types are combined, which complicates the treatment of pathology.

Itching is present in all forms of the disease. You can eliminate the symptoms with drugs, after eliminating the cause.


Peeling of the skin caused by various causes is not an infectious disease. Although caused by a conditionally pathogenic yeast-like fungus. Why? Because this fungus lives on the skin not only in case of illness, but in every healthy person. For life, the microorganism needs fatty acids that are present in sebum. When secretion fails, fungi become more active, their number progresses, which leads to inflammation, itching and peeling.

  • If the process affects the ear region, then dandruff is formed in the ears.

Symptoms develop gradually; at first they are almost invisible, especially when dry. Few immediately run to the doctors: usually begin to use anti-dandruff shampoos or medicinal herbs. It happens that helps. But wake-up calls cannot be ignored. It is important to remember the following:

  • It is much more difficult to treat advanced dandruff, so it is better to contact the clinic at the initial stage of the disease.

It should be borne in mind that dandruff can disappear and reappear, even if treated. Or it can develop into psoriasis when the ears swell and turn pink. Then the aesthetic problem becomes medical.


Dandruff, or oily seborrhea, is of two types: dry and oily. According to another classification, doctors distinguish a third, mixed form. The differences between them are visible visually. Type of dandruff is directly related to the type of skin. The localization of the problem is as follows: auricles, passages, area behind the ears.

  • With dry dandruff in the ear, the produced fat is retained in the thickness of the skin due to clogging of the pores, therefore, signs of dryness appear on the surface. With mechanical removal of the scales, the skin turns red and inflamed.
  • Fatty dandruff is formed with increased secretion of fat. The process is accompanied by an unpleasant odor. The husks acquire a yellowish tone. Often accompanied by acne, especially on male skin. The oily appearance is divided by consistency - into thick and liquid.
  • For mixed dandruff, the presence of several foci of various fat content is typical. For example, white placers are observed on the face and ears, and yellowish scales are observed on the eyebrows and braids.

Itching annoys the patient with any type of dandruff, so he wants to eliminate it in the first place.

Dandruff of any kind should be eliminated by all appropriate means. If this is not done, the problem is compounded and complicated. The choice of drugs largely depends on the root cause of the pathological condition. With an allergic nature, antihistamines are required, with hormonal imbalances, corticosteroids are required. But the main remedies are antimycotic, with anti-inflammatory, antipruritic, soothing effects.

Complications and consequences

Ignoring dandruff in the ears or improper treatment is a clear health hazard. Self-medication can do the same harm. The consequences and complications of such actions are as follows:

  • deep mycosis: damage to the oral mucosa, lymph nodes, liver;
  • sepsis;
  • infection of the affected area;
  • perforation of the eardrum;
  • destruction of the auditory elements of the middle ear.

Especially dangerous is deep mycosis, from which there is no complete deliverance. Risks of relapse exist all my life, and with weak immunity the most serious consequences for health are possible.

Diagnostics of the dandruff in the ears

The effectiveness of treatment directly depends on the correct diagnosis. During the visit, the patient must tell the doctor about everything that bothers him, answer additional questions. After examination by an otolaryngologist or dermatologist, laboratory tests are prescribed.

  • To clarify the diagnosis, a smear is taken from the ear canal, the results of which will confirm or refute the infectious nature of dandruff in the ear.

If you suspect a metabolic problem, tests are prescribed: blood - total and biochemical, urine for sugar. If a history of diabetes or other endocrine disease is observed, then a hormonal background study is required for the diagnosis. If necessary, the patient is consulted by narrow-profile specialists. After diagnosis, the doctor prescribes an individual course of treatment. [5]


In order to make a diagnosis, in addition to examination, doctors need to conduct several tests. Which ones - depends on the cause of dandruff in the ears. The analyzes are as follows:

  • ear swab for infection;
  • scraping the skin on the fungus;
  • general blood analysis;
  • urine test for sugar;
  • blood chemistry;
  • hormonal background research.

Instrumental diagnostics

To diagnose dandruff in the ear, an ENT doctor should carefully examine and examine the auricle, canal, and adjacent area. Instrumental diagnostics are indispensable.

  • Tools are necessary both for making a diagnosis and for conducting medical procedures.

Necessarily use devices for endoscopic examination: concave mirrors, ear funnels, reflectors attached to the forehead, without which the traditional image of the otolaryngologist will be incomplete. The “Gentleman's set” of an ENT specialist includes ear tweezers, flushing syringes, probes, and rubber blowing cylinders.

Differential diagnosis

When diagnosing dandruff in the ear, similar problems should be excluded:

  • peeling;
  • psoriasis;
  • irritation
  • an allergy.

Differential diagnosis takes into account that dandruff is accompanied by itching, but normal peeling is not. Dandruff is a fungal disease, and peeling is associated with dryness and the natural death of skin cells. To differentiate, take a scraping from the skin, sometimes a biopsy.

Who to contact?

Treatment of the dandruff in the ears

You can get rid of dandruff in the ears in various ways - both in pharmacy and in alternative means. An important place is occupied by hygiene procedures: washing with baby soap and a sponge, rinsing with warm water, cleaning the ear passages with a cotton swab. After water procedures, the ears must be thoroughly dried with a napkin and moistened with cream. If after such manipulations dandruff does not disappear, it is necessary to visit a doctor.

  • Illiterate manipulations can damage the eardrum.

Treatment begins after diagnosis and the cause. It should be comprehensive and include, in addition to local manipulations, proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. If the problem is ignored, it tends to spread and complicate. In particular, mycosis can develop in the ears, penetrating the deep tissues of the body. [6]

The following drugs are used to eliminate dandruff:

  • tar products (Friederm, Cebuton);
  • Octopyrex, Zinc pyrithione, salicylic acid;
  • Ketoconazole, Nizoral, Clotrimazole;
  • creams and shampoos against dandruff and fungi;
  • selenium sulfide (Sulsen);
  • lotions with vitamins;
  • antibiotics.

Alternative medicine offers equally effective recipes. The main ones attract attention:

  • turunds with vegetable oil, chamomile infusion, novocaine;
  • oil and garlic-oil masks for wiping the ears;
  • sluzhivanie orogovelostey bread porridge.

For the prevention of dandruff, hygiene should be followed, personal accessories should be used, do not clean your hearing organs with cotton buds, and protect yourself from water, especially chlorinated water, and from the cold. In time to treat otitis media, boils and other diseases of the ear zone.


Most alternative drugs eliminate the symptoms of the pathological process. Qualified doctors prescribe not only local effects, but also eliminating the cause of dandruff in the ears. And also give recommendations for the prevention of relapse.

  • Combination therapy should last two months. Topically applied drops, creams, ointments.

Effective drugs contain ketoconazole, cyclopirox, zinc, salicylic acid, selenium disulfide, tar. The need for other active ingredients depends on the factors causing dandruff. These can be corticosteroids, antihistamines, antifungal agents.

  1. Drops Sofradex. They relieve itching, inflammation, swelling, fight pathogenic microorganisms. The solution is instilled into the ear or a moistened gauze swab is placed in the passage. Apply for a week.
  2. Ointment (or aerosol) Geocorton. Apply a thin layer to the affected area, several times a day. Acts as an antimicrobial agent. In case of intolerance to the components of the ointment, aerosol is sprayed from a distance of 20 cm. The duration of the course is individual.
  3. Paste Sulsen. Dries, eliminates inflammation and scales. Mass smeared skin and hair washed with medical shampoo. 2% of the drug is therapeutic, 1% is prophylactic.
  4. Nizoral cream 2% contains ketoconazole, acts against fungi with seborrheic dermatitis. Apply to the affected area 1-2 times a day, depending on the severity of the infection. The course lasts several weeks.

All preparations may contain components that are not tolerated by individual patients. Allergic reactions, burning sensation and discomfort are possible. In such cases, they are looking for analogues or alternative means. The main precautions are to apply externally, according to the instructions, avoiding accidental ingestion.

The listed preparations are offered for reference. The use of specific drugs must be agreed with the doctor.

Ointment for dandruff in the ears

Dermatitis can develop against a background of dry or oily seborrhea. Both patients and doctors, as a rule, prefer simple but effective ointments for dandruff in the ears. Their task is to relieve inflammation and destroy the fungus in the affected areas: the auditory meatus, concha, behind the ear area. Antipruritic and sedative drugs are also required. If the cause is a hormonal imbalance, then prescribe drugs for dandruff in the ears with corticosteroids

  • If allergies are suspected, antihistamines are necessary.

In the initial stages of dandruff in the ears, zinc ointment is prescribed. It is an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory drug. Strongly dries the epidermis, so it is applied to a dry surface in a mixture with base oil (peach, sunflower, olive).

In case of damage to the auditory meatus, Sofradex, Garazon, Betagenot, and Travobon are recommended. The skin of the conch and ear region in the early stages is treated with Soderm ointment. It eliminates itching and stops the progression of the process. Salicylic, retinoic, tar ointments are effective.

  • Alternative medicine has its own treatment secrets.

A popular plant for dandruff is a natural elecampane antibiotic with anti-inflammatory and decongestant properties. Ointments according to old recipes are prepared independently, based on pork or goose fat. 10 g of vegetable raw materials are mixed with 50 g of fat and put for a week to insist in a place protected from daylight. Store the ointment in the refrigerator, apply on the ears two to three times a day.

Physiotherapeutic treatment

Among anti-dandruff methods, physiotherapeutic procedures attract attention. They are used to improve local blood circulation, normalize sebum secretion and metabolism.

  • Dandruff on the head is treated with cryomassage, darsonval, ozone, UV rays, laser, mesotherapy.

The procedures are carried out under the constant supervision of a doctor, in combination with other prescriptions. Perhaps the doctor will prescribe physiotherapy for dandruff in the ears. Procedures relieve inflammation, contribute to the speedy elimination, including the most severe forms of the disease.

Herbal treatment

One of the easiest alternative recipes is the usual chamomile infusion. At home, it is prepared from their dried flowers, bought at a pharmacy or harvested independently. A handful of raw materials is poured 200 ml of boiling water and insist 20 ml. To soften dandruff in the ears, you can add olive or sunflower oil in drops. Cotton sponges soaked in liquid are inserted into places where peeling is present, both in the aisles and behind the ears. Hold for 15 minutes.

The therapeutic properties of dandruff are also possessed by other medicinal plants common on our lands:

  • nettle;
  • calendula;
  • Oak bark;
  • celandine;
  • sage;
  • yarrow;
  • plantain;
  • lavender.

Preparations are prepared according to the same recipe as chamomile infusion, applied topically, in the form of compresses, or lotions, as they are popularly called. A sponge made of cotton wool or gauze soaked in a herbal broth is applied to the problem area for 5-7 minutes. The multiplicity of the procedure depends on the stage of development. With the first symptoms, two to three compresses per day are sufficient, with the progression of the pathology - at least five.

Healing herbs are also active in other drugs - for example, elecampane is a component of homemade ointment for ear dandruff. Its healing power can be judged by the fact that the plant is called the "younger brother" of magic ginseng.


The correct technique, pharmacy and alternative remedies can eliminate not only symptoms, but also causes. If dandruff in the ears is eliminated, it is important to prevent a relapse. The main points in prevention are to monitor your health, personal hygiene and lifestyle. An important role is given to the method of nutrition. A healthy diet is recommended, which is useful not only for the skin, but also for the whole body.

Preventive measures against dandruff include the following items:

  • wash your head and body regularly with suitable detergents;
  • if the doctor recommends, then use a special dermatological shampoo or tar soap;
  • use only your personal hygiene items;
  • keep the ear canals clean;
  • eat healthy fortified foods;
  • if seborrhea is diagnosed, change the headphones, jewelry, hearing aid;
  • separately take a complex with minerals: zinc, magnesium, selenium;
  • exclude fatty, high-calorie, flour, smoked dishes from the diet;
  • add vegetable dishes to the menu, plenty of water without gas;
  • protect your ears from seasonal cold by wearing hats made of natural fabrics;
  • alternate work with outdoor activities
  • give up smoking and alcohol.


Although the prognosis is favorable, still the disease can deliver a lot of unpleasant moments and discomfort. Therefore, self-medication is inappropriate; Dandruff in the ears should be treated only by specialized specialists - ENT doctors and dermatologists.

Clean smooth skin is one of the conditions for a beautiful appearance. It is possible to protect yourself from inflammation, peeling, dandruff in the ears and hair while observing personal hygiene and a healthy lifestyle. In case of alarming symptoms, you need to visit a family or profile doctor. Responsible actions of the patient and the correct method of treatment ensure the complete elimination of dandruff and protection against relapse.

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