General Question

Kairi's avatar

What could this be?

Asked by Kairi (548 points ) May 26th, 2014

As of the past few months, I have been developing scab-like things in the crevices of my ear. they don’t hurt until I touch them and I don’t know they are there unless I scratch my ear and feel it. If I pick off the scabs, they start oozing a clear fluid, and then bleed a little bit, but not too much. I’ve tried looking up online what it could be, but the only site I came across that discussed anything remotely similar to it had replies that were just full of inappropriate sexual jokes and puns instead of an actual answer. Any idea what this could be? Dried earwax, maybe? (Though I use a q-tip and water every day when I shower) Or something else?

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28 Answers

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Make a doctor’s appointment or go to the ER.
Quit using a Q-tip in your ear.

DipanshiK's avatar

I hate to mention this but I think they are sort of big pimples which have dull pale liquid in them. And once they break open blood starts to come on. It’s nothing to worry about at all. At all. It’s very common. They formulate because of improper cleaning of the area or too much oil I guess, and it can also build up if go out in sun and don’t properly hydrate.
Get an ointment or medicine preferably an antibiotic from a doctor and you’re gonna be fine.

Seek's avatar

I used to get that a lot. It’s in the small fold of cartilage at the top of your ear, right?

I think it’s dry skin caused by soap and shampoo not being properly rinsed away, and left there with water to air-dry after the shower, cracking like poorly-maintained heels of your feet.

When it happened to me, I put Neosporin on it until it went away, and from then on made a point to dry that part of my ear with a swab after every shower.

My son had it once, too, so we have the same routine with him now as well.

Neither of us has had a recurrence.

Kairi's avatar

@Dan_Lyons unfortunately, a q-tip is the only way to get to where they form to dry them out

Kairi's avatar

@DipanshiK that makes sense to me

Kairi's avatar

@Seek thanks, I’ll be sure to try that!

MollyMcGuire's avatar

The first thing that came to mind was bed bugs. I read about them about a week ago and am still grossed out.

JLeslie's avatar

Sounds like an infection either bacterial or fungal. I would just try an antibacterial ointment or cream first, like @Seek mentioned, and if it doesn’t work then an antifungal, and then if that doesn’t work go to a doctor.

DipanshiK's avatar

@Kairi please don’t use a Q tip on that area. It’s going to worsen it and probably cause infection from it.
Quit it please. It’s not safe at all.

longgone's avatar

Don’t use Q-tips. They may well be the cause.

Kairi's avatar

@mollymcquire im pretty sure we dont have bed bugs shudder arent they disgusting?

Kairi's avatar

@jleslie sounds logical to me. Thanks!

Kairi's avatar

@dipanshiK @longgone
I dont use them when I have the issue, just when I dont to get the water out after a shower/bath

Seek's avatar

For anyone that is interested:

That LA’s Totally Awesome cleaner that @ibstubro and I are always talking about? It kills bedbugs, AND THEIR EGGS.

Two years of battle and three sets of couches, and I’ve finally gotten that damned monkey off my back.

Don’t let the company know, though. I really don’t want them raising their prices. Haha.

Quakwatch's avatar

You need to be evaluated by a doctor and perhaps by a specialist like an otolaryngologist (commonly referred to as an ENT doctor). It sounds like a chronic dermatitis of the ear canal, which can be benign or may be an indication of an atopic (allergic) condition such as psoriasis or eczema. These entities are treated differently, so an evaluation is absolutely warranted.

JLeslie's avatar

I have a question now that this popped up in my activity again. Does crevices mean in the ear canal? Or, the folds on the ear? The ear, which is on the outside of our heads?

Kairi's avatar

*jleslie the folds of the skin in my ear. Not the canal

Kairi's avatar

@quackwatch unfortunately I cant afford to go to a specialist and i’m not sure if my insurance from work is still active since they cut my hours, so i’ll have to wait on that. But i’ll keep it in mind!

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

If it is dry, scaly skin, I would say eczema. My son used to get it bad on his ears, and behind his ears.

JLeslie's avatar

Ok, that’s what I thought. I would not go to an ENT for that if you go to a doctor, I would go to a dermatologist or maybe a GP. Let us know if any of the creams help. If you decide to try treatment for a fungal infection you could try the Nizoral shampoo maybe (do you have any symptoms of dandruff on your head?) or Lotrimin. Sounds like you are going to try the bacterial treatment first though.

Either way you want to keep the area dry (exept for the medicinal ointment on there) clean and cool. This time of year in the northern hemisphere heat and humidity are ramping up and they contribute to all sorts of skin infections and rashes. If you wear a helmet for any reason or have long thick hair it could be making things worse.

Quakwatch's avatar

@Kairi Is it both ears or just one? If it is just one then it might be a contact reaction to your cell phone (nickel). If it is both, there are a number of possibilities, including psoriasis, eczema, or chronic dermatitis.

hearkat's avatar

As others have noted, it could be a benign build-up of shredded skin causing clogged pores, or it could be infection, or it could be allergy/auto-immune, or it could be far more serious. I’ve seen a lot of funky things in 20+ years of working with people’s ears. An ENT would be the ideal, or a dermatologist, but even a primary/family doctor could check it out for you.

Megan64's avatar

Not a Dr., but it sounds like impetigo.

Seek's avatar

Man, everyone is blowing this stuff way out of proportion. It’s a tiny scratch on the cartilage of his ear, right around where all the 11 year old girls were getting those cuff earrings when I was in 5th grade. It’s not like his ears are going to fall off. Remember how your mama always told you to wash behind your ears? This is why. That’s it.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek I agree, it doesn’t sound like that big of a deal to me either. Then when everyone got wound up I thought maybe I misunderstood and it was a possible infection in the ear canal, but no, it’s probably a minor skin infection on the ear. Could be an allergy of some sort as some suggested. We don’t have the benefit of a photo so the OP will have to judge how bad it is and if it is getting worse not better. Better be careful there, you are setting yourself up for jellies to hound you about not being a doctor like they do me.

hearkat's avatar

@Seek and @JLeslie: (here’s the hounding) No one has blown anything out of proportion, we’ve simply made the point that only a qualified medical professional can diagnose the condition by physically examining it. Chances are that it is nothing serious but there is a possibility that it could be something worse, or even far worse. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve seen a lot of different conditions on the tens-of-thousands (a very modest estimate) of ears I’ve examined in my career – how many ears have either of you examined since obtaining an advanced degree in a field that specializes in ears over 20 years ago?

Quakwatch's avatar

It’s a “tiny scratch” but the OP decided to ask about it, with a very long description of the situation to boot?

JLeslie's avatar

I suggested a doctor also if the ointments don’t work, I would think if it was terribly bad they would already have a doctor’s appointment. People started talking about q-tips and I got all confused. The ENT suggestion threw me a little also.

Even a tiny scratch on a part of the body can wind up being surgery to remove a limb, so I don’t take things lightly, but the description sounded not very major, but that it does need resolving.

Running to a doctor did not sound in order. Nothing wrong with suggesting it though. Suggesting it is not hounding me. Telling me to shut up is hounding me, you aren’t doing that.

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