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This is an infection of the skin of the ear canal. There can be discharge, swelling (narrowing of the canal) and severe pain particularly on pulling the ear or pressing the tragus. In true otitis externa the tympanic membrane is normal.

Further Reading

eMedicine - Otitis Externa : Article by Kathy A Cook

eMedicine - Otitis Externa : Article by Ariel A Waitzman, MD, FRCSC

wikipedia - Otitis Externa


A bright red tympanic membrane with pain and fever. This is really a GP problem and can be sent home with Amoxicillin (if severe go to Augmentin) and analgesia. No follow up is required in the emergency clinic.

This may later complicate into a perforation where the pain will subside, and you will probably get plenty of discharge from the ear. In this case take a swap and give sofradex drops with analgesia. Ask the GP to review once the infection has gone to make sure that the perforation has healed. If it hasnít after 6 weeks suggest to the GP to make a outpatientís appointment to follow this up.

Further Reading

eMedicine - Otitis Media : Article by Kathy A Cook

eMedicine - Pediatrics, Otitis Media : Article by Andrew A Aronson, MD

PEDIATRICS Vol. 113 No. 5 May 2004, pp. 1412-1429 - clinical practice guideline on otitis media with effusion


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