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February 18, 1983

Asteatosis and Pruritus of the Ear

JAMA. 1983;249(7):884-885. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03330310020015

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To the Editor.—  The QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS section of The Journal (1982;248:988) contained a discussion of the treatment of otitis externa. Dr Polk's answer was fine, as far as it goes. He neglected, however, to discuss a common cause of external ear canal pruritus, which is asteatosis, the relative shortage of ear cerumen. Skin that does not have lubrication by ear wax will be red, pruritic, desquamated, and sensitive to cold temperatures or wind blowing into the ear canal. The treatment of this is simple and involves being certain that all water and soap that get into the ear are cleaned out, the use of normal saline to get out any such material that doesn't come out readily with just dependency of the affected ear, and the use of emollients, either baby oil, glycerine, or an ointment such as 10% boric acid in lanolin. For completeness, his answer should have