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Dry, Flaky Ears

author image Megan Smith
Megan Smith has been a freelance writer and editor since 2006. She writes about health, fitness, travel, beauty and grooming topics for various print and Internet publications. Smith earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in writing from New York University.
Dry, Flaky Ears
Flaky skin in the ear is a treatable condition. Photo Credit Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Getty Images

If you notice flaky, dry skin in or around your ears, don't brush your hair over your ears and ignore it. The flakes may be caused by seborrheic dermatitis, a dermatological condition that causes scaly skin flakes, or an allergic reaction that may cause flaking and dryness of the skin in the ear area. Consult a doctor before attempting to treat your skin condition on your own.


Dandruff-like flakes in the ear may be caused by seborrheic dermatitis, a dermatological condition that may be caused by stress, a yeast known as malassezia, cold winter weather and, in some cases, from diseases like HIV and AIDS or Parkinson's disease, says MayoClinic.com. Flaky, dry ears may also be caused by a skin allergy from fragrances, shampoos, lotions or any other substances you use around your ears.


Flaky ears due to seborrheic dermatitis may be accompanied by yellow or white crusty scales on the surface of the skin. The area may itch or feel uncomfortable. Flaking skin on the ears due to an allergic reaction may be accompanied by hives, blistering skin, itchy skin or a strange rash, notes the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology.

Over-the-Counter and Home Remedies

To eliminate flaky skin due to seborrheic dermatitis, the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology website recommends washing the afflicted area with an over-the-counter shampoo that contains zinc pyrithione, ketoconazole or selenium sulfide as an active ingredient. Purchase these shampoos at the drugstore or grocery store. Massage a small amount of the shampoo onto the ear for several minutes, then rinse thoroughly. If you think your flaking skin is due to an allergy, eliminate the suspected allergen from your skin and do not use it. If this does not stop the flaking skin on your ears, consult a doctor.

Doctor's Treatments

If you cannot eliminate your seborrheic dermatitis with over-the-counter remedies, your doctor may prescribe a combination of topical prescription treatments containing ketoconazole and desonide. For particularly severe cases of seborrheic dermatitis, your doctor may prescribe an oral medication like terbinafine. If you're not sure what is causing your skin allergy, your doctor or allergist can perform allergy tests to determine which environment or product is causing your reaction, notes the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology website.

Expert Insight

According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, seborrheic dermatitis occurs in individuals who produce too much sebum, or oil, on the skin. As the oil accumulates, pityrosporum yeast may begin to grow on the oil, which may mix with bacteria and create an even more persistent problem. Seborrheic dermatitis may return if you discontinue treatment.

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