Conditions that can cause ear itching include swimmer’s ear, allergic contact dermatitis and ringworm, according to Healthgrades. Sudden and severe itching can be a sign of anaphylactic shock, which can cause fainting and difficulty breathing.
Swimmer's ear is an outer ear infection that can occur due to exposure to moisture, notes Healthline. Infections are more likely in cases of intense scratching and when using headphones or cotton swabs, since the lining of the outer ear can rupture during these activities. Symptoms of the condition include swelling, pus discharge, excessive fluid drainage, and severe pain in the face or neck.
Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when foreign substances inflame the skin, explains Healthline. As a response to these allergens, the body releases inflammatory chemicals that irritate the skin and make it itchy. Common items that have allergens include jewelry that contains nickel or gold, perfumes, chemicals in cosmetics, and poison ivy.
Ringworm is a fungal infection that affects the skin, according to MedlinePlus. The condition is contagious and can be caught by coming into contact with infected people or contaminated objects, such as unwashed clothing, combs and shower surfaces. Pets, especially cats, are common carriers of ringworm and can spread it to people. Symptoms of ringworm include red, raised patches that are scaly, ooze, have defined edges and look like a ring.