Itchiness behind the ears can be because of a number of causes ranging from allergies to infections. To properly treat itchiness, also called pruritis, you should consult a doctor for a definitive diagnosis. If not properly treated, scratching behind the ears can result in damage to the skin, worsening infection or spread of the condition.
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One of the most common causes of itching behind the ears in adults is dandruff, or seborrheic dermatitis. The condition causes flaky, itchy skin on the scalp and can occur behind the ears.
According to the Merck Manuals, dermatitis causes an itchy, often red, rash sometimes accompanied by blisters, swelling and often oozing, scabbing and scaling.
Ringworm can affect the skin behind the ears. According to MayoClinic.com, ringworm causes redness and itchiness and commonly affects toddlers and school-age children.
Head lice, also called pediculosis capitis, can cause intense itching behind the ears and on the scalp. Head lice are extremely contagious.
Other conditions exist that may cause itching behind the ears. Consult your doctor for a clear diagnosis.
According to MayoClinic.com, risk factors for seborrheic dermatitis include yeast infections, stress and fatigue, change of seasons with outbreaks usually worse in the winter, neurological conditions such as Parkinson's disease, and HIV/AIDS.
Dermatitis can be triggered in people with allergies to substances such as ingredients in soaps, hair care and styling products, metals used in jewelry and some trees, grasses and weeds.
Ringworm can occur in children who have frequent exposure to other children and pets. Poor hygiene and overcrowding can also contribute to contracting ringworm.
According to Skinsight.com, head lice can be contracted by almost anyone, but children from ages 3 to 11 are the most commonly affected. Girls tend to get lice more often than boys, and those with straight hair are more susceptible than those with curly hair.
Treatment for itchiness behind the ears depends on the cause. Creams and ointments are sometimes prescribed for dermatitis, anti-dandruff shampoos can be used to control seborrhea, oral medications may be given to treat ringworm, and head lice requires treatment with a lice-killing topical solution and removal of the nits.
Always consult your doctor before beginning any treatment for itching behind the ears.
Most causes of itching behind the ears can be managed or eliminated. With dermatitis, removing the offending allergen can help minimize outbreaks and both ringworm and head lice can be cured with medication. Seborrheic dermatitis may be a lifelong condition that can recur when treatment ends.
When itching is severe, scratching can lead to a secondary infection, which is usually characterized by pain, swelling, pus and fever. Contact a doctor immediately if signs of infection are present.