Dry skin that appears on the earlobe is a frustrating and embarrassing symptom. Dry skin is a result of many environmental and medical conditions — some that poses serious dangers if left untreated. Therefore, it is important for the sufferer to understand what causes dryness on the earlobe and how it is remedied.
Dryness on the earlobe is accompanied by a variety of symptoms. The earlobe may feel rough to the touch, with patches or bumps on the skin's surface. This skin may also itch, appear red and swollen, and flake off in oily clumps. A headache, fatigue or fever may accompany symptoms. The same type of dryness that occurs on the earlobe may also occur on other areas of the body, such as the neck, scalp and forearms.
There are a variety of conditions that cause dryness on the earlobe. A condition called actinic keratosis affects the top layer of skin, notes CNN Health. This skin lesion occurs after exposure to the sun and causes damage to the skin cells, resulting in dryness. Similarly, a sunburn causes the skin on the ears to burn and peel as it heals, resulting in dry skin on the earlobe. Seborrheic dermatitis, which also contributes to dryness on the ears, occurs from a combination of overproduction of skin oil and the yeast malessizia.
When dry skin on the earlobe is the result of actinic keratosis, a doctor typically prescribes topical medications to kill the actinic keratosis cells or modify the immune system to reject the cells. A sunburn benefits from anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, which helps to reduce any swelling associated with the ear dryness. Lotions that contain ingredients such as corticosteroids, ketoconazole, coal tar or zinc also helps to loosen scales of dry skin in cases of seborrheic dermatitis.
To avoid developing dry skin on the earlobes, stay out of the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., notes CNN Health. This is when the rays of the sun are strongest. In addition, always apply sunscreen to the earlobes, even on days when the sun is hidden behind clouds. To combat seborrheic dermatitis on the earlobes, wash the earlobes often and find ways to handle stress, which may contribute to seborrheic dermatitis flare-ups.
Frequent exposure to the sun not only causes dryness in the earlobes, it may result in damage to the skin's DNA. This exposures may turn into serious types of cancer, such as squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Left untreated, dryness on the earlobes from chronic seborrheic dermatitis causes secondary fungal or bacterial infections, problems with self esteem, and psychological distress, notes MedlinePlus.