Dear Dr. Roach: I live in a very dry climate and I struggle with dry skin all over my body. Recently, I have noticed that the skin of the ear canal is very dry and peeling. I have no ear pain, no itchy ears. I believe I have dry skin in my ears, and I have been advised by medical professionals to put a few drops of olive oil in my ears.

I’ve looked in the pharmacy to see if there’s something like a hydrating ear drop to help with flaky skin, but I can’t seem to find one. Should I see my doctor for this, or is it safe to put olive oil in my ears for this problem?

– NES

Dear NES: The skin on the lining of the ear canal can dry out, just like the rest of the skin on your body, so it makes sense to apply something to help keep it moist. However, the ear is also susceptible to infections, both by bacteria and by fungi; to eczema; and irritation by allergens such as in shampoos or cosmetics. An evaluation by a general practitioner or ENT specialist is probably a good idea. If you agree, applying olive oil in the ear daily is an effective way to keep the skin moist.

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