Headphones= itchy ears?
May 18, 2016 8:50 PM   Subscribe

Wearing in ear or over the ear headphones results in a feeling of itchy ears. You are not my doctor, but does anybody else encounter this and if so, what helps?
posted by skjønn to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Also, it happens when I put them on, even if no sound is turned on.
posted by skjønn at 8:54 PM on May 18, 2016

Well this happened to me when I wore my cheapo over ear headphones for a couple hours before I threw money at the problem and got glorious Sennheiser ear cradles. But that was only after lengthy wearing, like on a plane flight or something. Do you have otherwise sensitive skin, perhaps in other places? Ears are very sensitive and fragile skin. What material are the cups of your headphones made out of, and is it possible that you could be allergic to it? Have you washed them and perhaps not fully gotten any cleaning chemicals off? Do you react badly to heat and your headphones make your ears too hot? It could be a bunch of different skin things that have nothing to do with the headphones too, and they're just the only things that touch your ears and flare up the itch.

As to in ear headphones, do you perhaps have a relatively small ear canal? This is my issue and part of why I've been over-ear for a decade. The only ear buds that fit comfortably in my ears are made for children, break easily, and have poor sound quality. You might just be hurting the skin inside your ear with poorly sized ear buds.
posted by Mizu at 9:50 PM on May 18, 2016

What kind of headphones are doing this to you? My ears always itched with foamy or foam-like headphones but the silicone/rubbery ones are fine.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:53 PM on May 18, 2016

I kept thinking someone else would tell you because the answer is so gross - but bacteria and other stuff (yeast?) totally grows because ears are covered with earbuds or headphones - you only feel itchy when covered because the beasties are growing when covered in a moist contained area (your ear canal.)

Disinfect your whatevers, and your ear canal - SAFELY.

Google because I know this is an issue, but I am not your doctor. I do know the more you wear headphones or use earbuds, the more you help the beasties to grow and get irritating.

Hygiene is your friend. Clean your earbuds or headphones as a start.
posted by jbenben at 1:19 AM on May 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

I wear hearing aids and to echo what jbenben says, bacteria and other gunk is an issue, at least for me. I clean the part that goes in my ear with small alcohol wipes each day. No more irritation and no more ear infections.
posted by Lescha at 7:02 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

I can only wear a very narrow range of earphone designs. Anything else hurts badly, from itching to sore spots to red ears, urgh. I don't think it's bacteria for me because this happens immediately. Flat original ipod earphones that just sit in my ears work (these are my current work pair for phone calls) but more than half an hour means I need earphones that sit outside my ear and don't touch my ear canal at all. These ultra light headset are the best I've found so far but I tried two dozen headsets to pick them based on what suited my particular ear shape. I have narrow and sensitive ear canals, so it's just always been this way.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 7:18 AM on May 19, 2016

Nthing the bacteria issue as the prime culprit, but also I find that headphones can impact earwax a bit and create itchy, dried out plugs over time. Adding a drop of olive oil (with a clean dropper) to your ears occasionally after a shower can help.
posted by veery at 7:37 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, bacteria.

Try to clean everything to within an inch of its life. Do not let anyone else ever wear your head phones. If it is a persistent problem, clean your ears, brush, floss, gargle and do a sinus rinse. Those areas are all interconnected. This is why Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat doctors are a thing.
posted by Michele in California at 10:16 AM on May 19, 2016

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