Dealing With Psoriasis in Ears

Mixed race businessman cupping ear to listen
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Getty Images

The red or silvery plaques that are common in people with psoriasis can appear on many parts of the body, including the elbows, knees, hands, feet. back, face, scalp, and even the ears.

You can develop psoriasis plaques around the ear (behind the ear) or inside of the ear canal. The rapid buildup of skin cells inside the ear canal can cause additional symptoms such as ear wax blockage or hearing loss.

It is not known why some people with psoriasis will develop plaques around or inside of their ears while others do not have this problem. Psoriasis in the ears may be more sensitive and bothersome than psoriasis on other parts of the body, but unfortunately, you cannot necessarily prevent it. You should still practice good hygiene though—keeping the ears dry, for example, will help to prevent secondary infections.

Symptoms of Psoriasis in the Ears

If you have psoriasis plaques inside your ear canal or around your ear you may experience some or all of the following symptoms:

  • itching
  • pain or tenderness in or around the ear
  • skin in or around the ear that appears flaky and may slough off
  • hearing loss
  • redness in or around the ear
  • red or silver skin plaques in or around the ear
  • ear wax blockage

If you have not previously been diagnosed with psoriasis, symptoms may be confusing since they overlap with many of the symptoms of swimmer's ear and ear wax blockage. A doctor can help sort the confusion out.

Diagnosis

If you have an existing diagnosis of psoriasis, diagnosing psoriasis in the ears may be as simple as a visual exam by your physician. If you have not been previously diagnosed, your doctor may choose to remove some of the skin cells from your ear and examine them under a microscope to confirm that it is psoriasis and not another condition.

Treatment

Some skin treatments for psoriasis may be too harsh for the ear canal. If you develop symptoms of psoriasis inside of the ears, you shouldn't automatically apply topical ointments you use for psoriasis on other parts of your body without checking with your doctor first.

A good doctor, preferably an otolaryngologist, can remove the buildup of wax and excess skin cells from the inside of your ear canal. This will help to restore hearing loss. It may be necessary to have this done on a regular basis to keep the ear canal clear.

It is never recommended to use cotton swabs or other objects to try to remove ear wax and this is especially important for individuals with psoriasis. This can inadvertently push debris further into the ear canal, causing increased symptoms and making it more difficult to remove. You also risk rupturing your eardrum.

The following treatments may be helpful for treating psoriasis in the ears:

  • Ear drops that contain steroids or other medications typically used to treat psoriasis.
  • Oral medications that suppress the immune system may control symptoms of psoriasis all over the body, including inside of the ears.
  • Talk to your doctor about using a drop of olive oil inside of the ears daily to help move wax and other debris out of the ear on its own.
  • if you have identified triggers that cause your psoriasis to flare you should be conscientious of these and avoid them.

A Word From Verywell

If you're experiencing psoriasis in the ear, know that your doctor understands the symptoms and the trouble they may be causing. You may feel uncomfortable with how it looks and a bit hesitant to talk about topics like ear wax, but it's helpful for your doctor when you bring it up. This way he or she can offer treatments that will help you regain confidence and get rid of pesky symptoms.

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