Itching & Scratching

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Itchy, itchy ears

May 2003

I have terribly itchy ears. I've tried hydrogen peroxide, candling, leaving them alone, a ointment, and those asian ear cleaners. They're very waxy and distractingly itchy. Does anyone have any suggestions for this? Is it possibly fungal? What can I do for relief? I've mentioned it to both Western and non-Western doctors, but nobody seems to take it too seriously. Meantime, I can think of little else some days! Any ideas, anyone?
Itchy and scratchy

I am a vet, and in animals with itchy ears I immediately think of food allergies. The animals often have secondary yeast infections that need to be treated also, but with ears that itch before or between infections definately allergies and usually food related are the focus. I have had some clients when I talk about the problem in their pet mention that they had the same trouble. Don't know if there are any studies of it in people, but you may want to play with your diet and see if it makes any difference. (In animals, the allergens are usually the really common things like beef,corn, wheat, etc and it can take up to 6- 8 weeks for the itching to fade after you stop a food.)
Pets sometimes teach us things

Itchy ears could be due to a food allergy. It could also be some other kind of allergy. Maybe pets, mold, new carpet, new car, perfume, ammonia, bleach, etc. anon

Thanks for writing -- I've suffered from this problem on and off for years! Annoying, isn't it? Others have indicated that allergies can set this off, and I agree with that theory, but don't have the time right now to hunt out and evaluate the root causes. I think stress is the bigger factor. I've just experienced great relief from this problem, courtesy of my dermatologist Dr. Christine Avocoff (physician with Dr. William Crain on Webster Street in Oakland). In my case, it's seborrheic dermatitis. I got some great medications that seemed to take effect immediately. Here's hoping the relief is long-lasting. If you have other forms of dermatitis (exzema, skin sensitivity, etc.) then medication might really help you out. Don't wait; this can get painful if it's aggravated. (Ouch...)
Your itchy scratchy friend

3-month-old with itchy rash on neck - sleepwear allergy?

June 2003

Has anyone had problems with their kid being allergic to flame-retardant sleepwear?

My 3-month-old has developed an itchy rash on her neck and shoulders -- she's scratching a lot but she hasn't gone off her food or sleeping, so it's not bothering her hugely, but she's scratched until the skin is all red. It feels like a sweat rash or something, not like poison oak, and it's a dry rash.

I bought her a new blanket sleeper, one of those ones like a little sleeping bag with shoulders on it, about a week ago, and she's had the rash noticeably for 4-5 days. I'm wondering if the chemicals in the flame-retardant are irritating her skin. She hasn't previously slept in anything treated with flame-retardant. I laundered the sleeper before I put her in it. Thanks! Sara

You didn't mention whether the sleepwear you used was cotton, which is treated with flame retardant to meet government sleepwear standards, or the more usual polyester children's sleepwear, which is inherently flame-retardant (without the addition of chemical treatment). Either way, I wouldn't be surprised if the rash is a reaction to it. Has your child ever had an eczema rash (from foods, for example)? My highly food- allergic niece can wear only 100% cotton (untreated), or she breaks out in a rash. I guess the easy way to tell is to stop using the sleepwear, see if the rash improves, then try again and see if it returns. Somewhat scientific, anyway. By the way - CLOSE-fitting cotton is less likely to burn than loose garments, and wool is naturally less flammable.

Here is just a thought. Does your baby sleep with you? I find, especially now that it is starting to get warmer, that when I fall asleep with my little ones in my arms (resting their head on my arm) they get heat rash right in that area you are talking about. I try to remove my arm and just let them rest on the bed to avoid this. I also double rinse all our clothes just to be safe. cb

Wow, it sure sounds as if your child is irritated by the flame-retardant - those are rather dangerous chemicals--I don't think I'd want them near my child! I'd recommend getting a regular, non-treated sleepware item, the flame retardant *can't* be good for him, even if it *isn't* the cause of the rash. And, if you think about it, how much can it really protect your child, anyway? If there's a fire in your house, a fire alarm is going to keep him much safer than the fire-retardant sleepwear (which wouldn't stand a chance against a real fire), so you don't really need the chemicals. anon