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INFLAMMATION OF THE EXTERNAL ACOUSTIC MEATUS 305
days will clear this carrier area. In more resistant cases the whole body
requires to be washed in a bactericidal liquid soap and dried with a fresh
clean towel. Artificial sunlight baths and a reduced carbohydrate diet may
be included in general measures.
Diffuse Otitis Externa. This condition occurs in acute or chronic stages in
which the skin of the external meatus varies from an acute exfoliative and
exudative reaction to a chronic granular or proliferative state.
This presents usually as a feeling of heat in the ear, soon changing to pain
which is often severe and is increased by jaw movements. The appearance
of a thin serous discharge is accompanied by easing of the pain. Later the
discharge becomes thicker and purulent and in some infections foul-smelling.
On examination the meatal skin is inflamed, swollen and very tender. Deaf-
ness of conductive type is usually present due to accumulation of discharge
and epithelial debris. Enlarged tender periauricular glands are palpable and
surrounding oedema may displace the auricle. Wax is noticeably absent.
The features of this stage are discharge and constant irritation or itching.
The desire to scratch is great and severe at night-time resulting often in
re-infection and exacerbations of the acute stage. Thickening of the meatal
skin with narrowing of the lumen may be present, or oedema and desquama-
tion with superficial ulceration of the skin may occur. The drumhead is
often congested, with a granular surface, and intermittent deafness results
from accumulated debris.
TREATMENT. The treatment of both stages requires thorough and gentle
cleansing of the external meatus, keeping the ears dry, avoiding trauma by
scratching, attention to personal hygiene and the treatment of associated
In the acute stage local treatment may begin with gentle irrigation of the
meatus with warm isotonic saline followed by dry mopping. An attempt
should be made to see the drumhead and to clean the antero-inferior meatal
recess. Provided that regular toilet of the meatus can be carried out treat-
ment with ear drops may give satisfactory results. Preparations containing
an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid and a broad-spectrum antiseptic are
effective in many patients, e.g. drops containing triamcinolone acetonide and
halquinol (Remotic) may be instilled twice daily. Alternatively, after cleansing,
the meatus may be packed with a 12mm ribbon-gauze wick impregnated
with a cream containing triamcinolone acetonide 0-025 per cent and hal-
quinol 0*75 per cent (Remiderm) this treatment being repeated on alternate
days. Antibiotic drops and .ointments should be employed circumspectly
because of the risk of sensitization or secondary fungus infection, and should
be related to results of bacteriological examination. In the wet stage packing
of the meatus with 12 mm ribbon gauze soaked in an astringent solution
such as 8 per cent aluminium acetate may produce a dry meatus. Packing
should be done daily and the patient provided with a quantity of the solution
so that the wick can be kept moist by applying a few drops to it three or four
times a day.