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Ear Psoriasis: Ear Drops, Itching, Hearing Loss, and More

Medically reviewed by Steven Devos, M.D., Ph.D.
Updated on February 1, 2024

The ear is among the most frustrating places to experience symptoms of psoriasis, whether around the ear, behind it, or in the ear canal. When psoriasis affects the ears, it can lead to a particular set of symptoms — including temporary hearing loss — and require specialized treatment.

“I can’t believe it: in my ears,” shared one member of the MyPsoriasisTeam. “I thought this was an external skin thing only. Arghh!”

Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition that can affect many areas of the body, including the ears. Among its most prominent symptoms are areas of painful, itchy, discolored, dry, or scaly skin.

What Are the Symptoms of Ear Psoriasis?

Symptoms of ear psoriasis include:

  • Dry patches on or around the ear, often appearing red or pink on lighter skin and purple, dark brown, or grayish on darker skin
  • Crusty silvery or gray scales called plaques
  • Temporary hearing loss
  • The feeling of a blockage inside the ear
  • Otitis externa (inflammation of the external ear canal, also known as swimmer’s ear)
  • Tenderness, burning, or itchiness outside or within the ear
  • Buildup of scaly skin in the ear canal

“Last night my ears were itching like crazy.”

— A MyPsoriasisTeam member

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Temporary hearing loss is perhaps the most concerning complication associated with ear psoriasis. Hearing loss can result from the buildup of plaques and scales that block the inner ear canal.

People with psoriasis are also more likely to experience a type of hearing loss known as sudden sensorineural hearing loss. This condition can affect individuals with psoriasis, even if they don’t have psoriasis in their ears. The cause of sudden sensorineural hearing loss is unknown, but scientists believe it’s related to an autoimmune attack on a part of the inner ear called the cochlea.

How Is Ear Psoriasis Treated?

There are many treatment options for ear psoriasis. Because the skin of the ear is delicate and sensitive, a gentle approach is often used first.

Over-the-Counter and Topical Treatments

Topical treatments (applied on the body) and ear drops can help with psoriasis symptoms. Topical treatments may contain corticosteroids, which help reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system. Topical creams with vitamin D, such as calcipotriene (Dovonex), may also be used. Another available option is cream containing retinoids, such as tazarotene (Tazorac).


A buildup of plaques and scales that block the inner ear canal can lead to temporary hearing loss.

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Over-the-counter moisturizers may also be useful in treating the affected skin. To minimize irritation to your skin, choose moisturizing products that are free of alcohol, artificial preservatives, and fragrances. Some moisturizers contain ingredients such as salicylic acid or coal tar (to help remove scales) or colloidal oatmeal or petrolatum (to repair the skin’s moisture barrier).

Systemic Treatments

Options beyond topical treatments include oral or systemic corticosteroids (also called steroids), which circulate through the entire body. A person living with psoriasis may also be treated with biologics, medications that block proteins and immune cells involved in the development of psoriasis.

Read more about oral and systemic treatments for psoriasis.

Removal of Buildup in the Ear

Having excess tissue removed from your ear can help reduce temporary hearing loss. Importantly, you should have a dermatologist remove the buildup of skin and scales from the ear canal. If you attempt to do this yourself, you may accidentally push the skin into your ear, increasing your risk of eardrum damage and infection.

What Causes Ear Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a skin disease that occurs when a person’s immune system attacks their own skin. Excess inflammation and activity by the immune system causes skin cells to replicate out of control. Overactive skin cell production leads to skin buildup, which often appears as the discolored lesions covered with gray or silvery scales characteristic of psoriasis. This response can occur on skin all over the body, including the ears.

Factors that can make psoriasis worse or lead to a flare-up of ear psoriasis may include:

  • Cold weather
  • Skin injury
  • Some medications
  • Excessive alcohol
  • Sunburn
  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Infection

Will My Ear Psoriasis Go Away?

There’s no cure for psoriasis. However, a variety of treatments can help you manage this condition. Talk with your dermatology clinician to get medical advice about available treatment options and recommended lifestyle changes that can help manage your psoriasis.

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and their loved ones. On MyPsoriasisTeam, more than 124,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with psoriasis.

Has psoriasis in the ears affected your life? What treatments work for you? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

    Updated on February 1, 2024

    A MyPsoriasisTeam Member

    I just figured it was related to my PsA. Since changing from Humira it’s gotten some better. I still get plaques inside my ear, but not as often.

    posted June 21
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    I Am Covered In Psoriatic Spots..ears Too.I Am Very Stressed.I Do Not Want To Take Biologics.What Can I Do?
    November 14, 2023 by A MyPsoriasisTeam Member 2 answers
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    Steven Devos, M.D., Ph.D. received his medical degree and completed residency training in dermatology at the University of Ghent, Belgium. Learn more about him here.
    Amanda Agazio, Ph.D. completed her doctorate in immunology at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Her studies focused on the antibody response and autoimmunity. Learn more about her here.

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