Auricular cellulitis is a painful yet treatable disease of the outer ear that can result in pain that radiates within the ear itself. It often can be misdiagnosed, and so it is important that any general redness, tenderness and pain be checked by a doctor or ear, nose and throat (ENT) physician for proper diagnosis. Once the patient has a definitive diagnosis, a treatment plan will follow.
Symptoms and Why Treatment is Necessary
Auricular cellulitis can be misdiagnosed as many conditions, such as excema and dermatitis, and so it is important for one to know its associated symptoms. A doctor can identify auricular cellulitis correctly, but the following symptoms can help you pre-determine the problem before you visit your doctor.
Sufferers usually notice tenderness, redness of the skin (erythema) and swelling of the external ear, particularly in the lobe, as well as a feeling of warmth in the area. The adjacent facial skin also may become red and tender. There will be a general feeling of sickness, possibly fever and ear pain located in the middle to inner ear (otalgia).
Without treatment, the disease will progress swiftly, and because auricular cellulitis is an acute streptoccal infection, antibiotics will be required against further S. aureus and Strepticocci strains.
Assuming that the condition has been diagnosed properly, the typical treatment consists of a high dose of penicillin G administered intravenously, but other antibiotics can be used. These can range from pills, such as Didoxacillon, Oxacillin, and Cefazolin, to topical antibiotic creams. Warm compresses most likely also will be prescribed.
Pain is managed by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Advil, or painkillers, which may be prescribed by your doctor based on the strength needed. The auricle and ear canal should be cleaned very carefully, so as not to further irritate the infected area.
Complications and Follow-up
If the patient is infected with the group A strepticocci virus, complications may arise, such as glomerulonephritis, which is an infection of the kidney with symptoms of decreased urine production and presence of blood and protein in the urine. Edema also may be present. Rheumatic fever or rheumatic endocarditis also may present itself as a complication. If these complications occur, additional medications and treatment plans will need to be put in place.
If you are allergic to penicillin, alternative antibiotics must be used. Make sure to let your doctor know of this potentially fatal allergic reaction.
Follow-up will commence after the round of antibiotics or steroids is complete. This can be done with your family doctor or an ENT if symptoms persist and the treatment regimen has not worked.
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