What are the classifications of otitis externa (OE)?

Updated: Mar 09, 2020
  • Author: Ariel A Waitzman, MD, FRCSC; Chief Editor: Ravindhra G Elluru, MD, PhD  more...
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OE may be classified as follows:

  • Acute diffuse OE - Most common form of OE, typically seen in swimmers
  • Acute localized OE (furunculosis) - Associated with infection of a hair follicle
  • Chronic OE - Same as acute diffuse OE but is of longer duration (>6 weeks)
  • Eczematous (eczematoid) OE - Encompasses various dermatologic conditions (eg, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and eczema) that may infect the EAC and cause OE
  • Necrotizing (malignant) OE - Infection that extends into the deeper tissues adjacent to the EAC; occurs primarily in immunocompromised adults (eg, diabetics, patients with AIDS)
  • Otomycosis - Infection of the ear canal from a fungal species (eg, Candida, Aspergillus)

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