Furuncle external auditory canal

From Otolaryngology Online

It is also known as acute localised otitis externa / circumscribed otitis externa. This is a localised infection usually found to involve the lateral 1/3 of the external canal. It also has a propensity to involve the posterior superior aspect of the external canal. This is caused due to obstruction of the apopilosebaceous units found extensively in this area.


Trauma to skin in this area followed by infection is commonly attributed cause. The organism responsible is commonly staph aureus.


1. Localised pain

2. Localised itching

3. Purulent discharge if the abscess ruptures

4. If oedema or abscess occludes the external canal hearing loss can occur.


1. Erythema of the skin

2. Localised abscess formation


If the abscess is pointing it can be treated by incision and drainage. Oral antibiotics should be used. The preferred drug of choice is penicillin of first generation cephalosporins. Anti inflammatory drugs can be used to reduce inflammation and pain. These patients must be advised to cut their nails short and to keep their hands clean, since this is the commonest route of infection.