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Malignant Otitis Externa

Overview

Malignant otitis externa is a disorder related to inflammation and damage of the bones and cartilage at the base of the skull. Otitis externa also called as swimmer's ear is an inflammation of the outer ear and ear canal. The skin of ear canal swells and becomes painful or tender to touch.


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Causes

Malignant otitis externa is caused by the spread of an outer ear infection. External otitis is  caused by bacteria like pseudomonas. The infection spreads from the surface of the ear canal to the nearby tissues and into the bones at the base of the skull. Swimming in polluted water is a common cause of infection. The presence of germs which infects  the skin and impairments in the integrity of the skin of the ear canal causes the infection to occur.  Chronic skin conditions that affect the ear canal skin, such as atopic dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, abnormalities of keratin production also affects the ear canal skin.


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Signs & Symptoms

Yellow, yellow-green, foul smelling drainage from the ear, pain is felt deep inside the ear and may get worse while moving head, hearing loss, itching of the ear or ear canal and irritation are the common symptoms.

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Prevention

•    Dry the ear thoroughly after it gets wet.
•    Avoid swimming in polluted water.
•    Protect the ear canal with cotton or lamb's wool while applying hair spray or hair dye.
•    Avoid inserting anything into the ear canal.
•    The use of earplugs when swimming and shampooing hair helps in preventing external otitis.


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Treatments
Antibiotics and Heat Application Modern Medicine

Antibiotics are given for long periods of time either through a vein (intravenously), or by mouth. Dead or damaged tissue (surgical debridement) in the skull is removed by surgery . Ear drops containing antibiotics is recommended to fight against the infection that reduces itching and inflammation in the ear canal skin. Removal of debris (wax, shed skin, and pus) from the ear canal shortens the recovery time. Heat application using a heating pad also aids in pain relief, although it may increase the bacterial growth.

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