“My ears are very itchy and dry. They flake on the outside and the inside,” a member of MyLupusTeam shared. Another wrote, “I get itchy scabs on my ears whenever I have flare-ups.”
Itchy ears can be a bothersome and confusing problem for people with lupus. Is lupus to blame for the itch or is it another condition?
In this article, we share which types of lupus might be most likely to cause itchy ears, other potential reasons you can’t stop scratching your ears, and strategies to discuss with your doctor to help you find relief.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disorder that occurs when the immune system attacks healthy tissues and organs. It can affect any part of the body. Symptoms of lupus include fatigue, joint pain or swelling, hair loss, mouth sores, and photosensitivity (sensitivity to sun exposure).
Systemic lupus erythematosus — the most common type of lupus — and cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE) — a type of lupus affecting the skin — can both cause skin lesions or skin rashes. A 2021 study found that itching is common in people with CLE, with more than half of the participants experiencing it daily.
There are three main types of CLE:
Discoid lupus, a type of chronic cutaneous lupus, is the most likely form of skin lupus to affect your ears. Discoid lupus tends to affect the scalp, ears, and face and causes skin lesions that are scaly and raised.
Although discoid lesions are not generally itchy, some MyLupusTeam members report itching as a symptom. “I have discoid lupus,” said one member. “Mine gets really red and itchy and hurts. Sometimes it bleeds. It’s mostly on my face and ears.” Another member commented, “My scalp, ears, and face itch and burn.”
Acute cutaneous lupus is associated with malar rash, a butterfly-shaped rash that spreads across the nose and cheeks of some people with lupus. This lupus rash can be itchy. It’s possible for people to experience acute cutaneous lupus elsewhere on the body, so that might be the cause of your itchy ears.
Subacute cutaneous lupus generally affects the chest, arms, and back. It can affect the face and scalp, but that is uncommon. It is unlikely to be the cause of your itchy ears.
It’s possible that your itchy ears are unrelated to your lupus diagnosis. Your itchy ears could be related to more easily resolved issues like ear wax build-up, an ear infection, or an allergy to nickel in your earrings.
Itchy ears could potentially be related to a skin disease like eczema or psoriasis.
A primary care provider can advise you on any of the issues above or refer you to a dermatology specialist to evaluate eczema or psoriasis.
Schedule an appointment with a doctor specializing in dermatology or rheumatology if you experience itchy ears with lupus. They can help determine if lupus is causing your symptoms or if another skin condition is to blame. They can also offer suggestions for relief.
These are some of the solutions they might recommend to prevent or treat itchy ears:
On MyLupusTeam, the social network for people with lupus and their loved ones, more than 223,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with lupus.
Do you have itchy ears with lupus? Share your experience in the comments below or post to your Activities page.