Treating acute otitis externa

Keep an eye out for warning signs of more sinister pathology

While acute otitis externa is relatively common, some unexpected complications may manifest during treatment.

The external ear is subject to a wide variety of pathology.

This article will focus on acute otitis externa (inflammation of the outer ear canal), with an emphasis on diagnosis, treatment and warning signs of more sinister pathology.

Acute otitis externa (AOE) is usually infectious in nature. It is more common in warm, humid environments, with about 80% of cases occurring during summer.1

The condition is thought to result from a loss of integrity of the hydrophobic, acidic, ceruminous layer of the external auditory canal.

This exposes the epithelium of the canal to water and bacterial infection.

Infection leads to an inflammatory response causing erythema and oedema of the epithelium, with resulting otalgia, pruritus and