Like most variations of eczema, eczema in the ears occurs for various different reasons, but there are two significant root causes.
1. Problems with the skin barrier function
A gene mutation affects the production of filaggrin, which means people with this mutation tend to have a faulty skin barrier. That in turn leaves the skin more vulnerable to irritants, allergens and dehydration, with moisture more likely to be lost through the barrier, and irritants to get in.
People with faulty skin barriers are susceptible to moisture loss from things like:
- Very low humidity
- Changes of weather
- Cold winds
- Hot temperatures
- Prolonged exposure to water
2. An overactive immune system
People whose immune systems react vigorously and disproportionately to perceived threats are more likely to experience eczema flares. These substances trigger an inflammatory response and histamine release, which results in the itchiness, swelling, heat and damage that characterise eczema.
Things that can trigger an inflammatory response include:
- Toiletries (shampoo, skincare, shower gels, makeup, hair products etc)
- Metals like nickel
- Rubber or latex against the ear
- Cigarette smoke
- Synthetic or woolly fabrics against the ear
- Stress hormones
- Certain foods which increase inflammation in the body
- Pet dander
- Dust mite debris
For more information on what you can do to help yourself, check out our article The Best Natural Treatments for Ear Eczema!