What's going on behind my ears?
November 2, 2009 2:07 PM   Subscribe

What's going on behind my ears? (Slightly disgusting)

I've had this problem with my ears for a while now. Basically, the area behind my ears is often cracked and raw and sore, and usually gunk builds up like a scab. I've been told it's because I don't dry behind my ears well enough after I shower, but this doesn't seem to solve the problem. Any ideas?
posted by MattMangels to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I had something like this for awhile, and it went away eventually with a combination of time and regular antibiotic ointment.
posted by bubukaba at 2:12 PM on November 2, 2009

It's one of the places I get psoriasis.
posted by b33j at 2:14 PM on November 2, 2009

Oh, I just remembered when my babies had cradle cap, apparently adults get it too.
posted by b33j at 2:15 PM on November 2, 2009

You might want to investigate the possibility of Eczema, as well. (IANAD, but a friend of mine has the condition and it recurs in the same place on her body, especially at the onset of winter for some reason.)
posted by trip and a half at 2:28 PM on November 2, 2009

Keep it extra clean, and keep it dry with corn starch. Clean the earpieces of your glasses/sunglasses often.
posted by theora55 at 2:33 PM on November 2, 2009

2nding eczema. My little sister had that when we were kids, behind her ears exactly as you describe.
I was very small, but remember it well because I used to like picking it off for her. Yuck, TMI, sorry.
posted by booknerd at 2:36 PM on November 2, 2009

That's one of the places I sometimes get eczema. The symptoms are similar to what you describe.
posted by wens at 2:37 PM on November 2, 2009

Daily use of anti-dandruff shampoo like neutrogena's t-gel might help, if it were psoriasis or dandruff related. This has the advantage of being low cost/low risk to try. (For clarification, I'd use the shampoo directly on the affected area like a body wash.

IANAD, but I've used similar shampoo for this purpose with satisfactory results.
posted by mercredi at 2:47 PM on November 2, 2009

This warrants a trip to the family doc, who can tell you whether it's psoriasis or eczema or some kind of skin infection. I had similar issues for years and tried to handle it on my own with ointments, etc. and it really just got worse until I went to the doctor and got a proper prescription.
posted by Ouisch at 2:48 PM on November 2, 2009

I used to get this before I started using dandruff shampoos. Try a dandruff shampoo on those spots for a few days and see if that helps. If not you might have to go see a dermatologist.
posted by radioamy at 3:04 PM on November 2, 2009

I had a pretty bad case of this for a while until I started using moisturizing soap...Caress.

FTR I have dry scalp too and have been using t-gel for years and it's great stuff, but this is the first time my ears actually feel and seem to be healed.

Good luck!
posted by snsranch at 3:58 PM on November 2, 2009

Do you wear glasses? Do you have new glasses? Or is the plastic cover on the ear piece of your old glasses getting worn out? If your glasses are metal it could me a metal allergy.
posted by mareli at 4:12 PM on November 2, 2009

I have the same problem. It itches quite bad sometimes but scratching only leads to it weeping and scabbing over. It never completely goes away though.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 4:16 PM on November 2, 2009

Not much of a diagnosis, but when I started getting psoriasis in my early twenties, it began behind my ears.
posted by AsRuinsAreToRome at 4:32 PM on November 2, 2009

IANAD but it could also be something fungal which might explain its resiliency. Definitely would go see a doctor as this seems to be persisting whatever it is.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:35 PM on November 2, 2009

That's one of the (many) places I have ezcema. (See also: eyelids, corner-of-nose, scalp, legs, etc.)

Elocon (mometasone furoate) is a topical steroid that works wonders. It only need be applied once or twice a week for me, except when it's really really bad, and it handles it outright. Hurts like a bitch on the eyelids or ears when they're open, though. Talk to your doctor; should be able to prescribe something simple for it like this.
posted by disillusioned at 4:59 PM on November 2, 2009

possibly seborrheic dermatitis
posted by sero_venientibus_ossa at 5:19 PM on November 2, 2009

nthing eczema... I get it there every winter... I think it is from the humidity levels. Went to a dermatologist and was prescribed a cream that I can put on. I usually leave it on overnight every other day or so and it seems to be controlled. I also get it on my upper eyelids occasionally.
posted by newper at 7:16 PM on November 2, 2009

I'm pretty sure I had exactly what you're describing some 20-odd years ago. I believe at the time I said "Ewwww!" (or whatever some adolescent version of me would have said) and resolved to be more diligent about my personal hygiene.

It went away - and probably would have had I not been more diligent about my personal hygiene.

Not that I'm endorsing being careless about your personal hygiene.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:37 PM on November 2, 2009

Thanks all. I don't wear glasses. I may have to visit the doctor to be sure what I have.
posted by MattMangels at 10:46 PM on November 2, 2009

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