What Causes Dry Scaly Bumps on the Tops of the Ears?

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It can be frustrated to have dry, scaly bumps on your ears and not understand what's causing this condition. A variety of factors can cause these symptoms and they don't always happen on the ears alone. Making an appointment with a dermatologist will be the quickest way to determine the cause of the problem so you can begin a treatment regimen.

Atopic Eczema

Atopic eczema is most commonly found in children and is considered the most severe form of eczema. According to the National Eczema Association, it's estimated that 65 percent of patients are diagnosed with atopic eczema during their first year and 90 percent are diagnosed before the age of 5. A person with this diagnosis may have small bumps with scaly, itchy, red and swollen areas of the skin.

Contact Dermatitis

According to the National Eczema Association, contact dermatitis is caused by an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions can vary depending on the severity of the allergy. Some can be life threatening while others may develop into hives, which are a common reaction. Hives appear as a rash-like bumps found on certain areas of the skin, or all over the body. Hives itch and sometimes sting.

Epidermal Cysts

Epidermal cysts are small, painless bumps that are moveable under the skin. According to Mayo Clinic, these cysts are often caused by hair follicle damage, a ruptured sebaceous gland, heredity, and developmental defects. If you have an epidermal cyst, see a dermatologist to have it removed. If you try to remove the cyst yourself, you risk infection resulting in the area becoming red, swollen, and tender. There is also a chance of fluid coming out that is a grayish white color and has a foul odor.

Insect Bites

Bumps from insect bites are caused by venom or some other form of toxin being injected into the skin. Normally, an insect bite will have mild symptoms, but for people who suffer allergies from bug bites, the body's reaction can be more severe. The most common reaction to an insect bite is red bumps that itch. Sometimes the red bumps will scab over as they heal.

Poison Ivy, Oak or Sumac

According to the Poison Ivy, Oak, & Sumac Information Center, the reaction to poison ivy, oak or sumac is caused by urushiol oil, which is the most common allergy in the United States. Half of the population will have an allergic reaction if they come in direct contact of urushiol oil.

To avoid contact with urushiol oil, remember there are three leaves per cluster on poison ivy and oak. There are seven to thirteen leaves per cluster on sumac. If you find yourself standing in an area of these plants, be prepared for the symptoms which include redness, itching, swelling and blisters.


Wearing a sunblock with an SPF of 30 is a quick and easy way to prevent sunburn, but still, people all over the world suffer yearly. The severity of sunburn depends on the amount of exposure, as well as they type of skin a person has. A person with fair skin will burn easier than a person with a naturally dark complexion. According to Dr. Greene's sunburn guide, sunburns peak within 24 hours of exposure. The symptoms include redness, possible blistering, and dryness. Sunburns often peel to remove the top layer of skin within a week.