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September 2009

Petrified Ear: A Complication of Bluetooth Headset Use

Arch Dermatol. 2009;145(9):1065-1066. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2009.196

Pressure, friction, and trauma of the helix and antihelix have been implicated in the development of chronic structural changes in ear cartilage.

A 28-year-old white man presented to the dermatology clinic with chronic swelling, tenderness, and firmness of his right ear. He correlated the onset of tenderness with the use of a Bluetooth headset device purchased 5 months earlier. His job required long hours spent speaking with clients while driving. From the time of purchase, he wore the headset in his right ear approximately 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. Two months after purchasing the device he noted tenderness in his right ear. His discomfort intensified when the onset of cold winter weather necessitated the use of a stocking cap, further increasing the pressure and friction placed on his ear. Six weeks after the onset of symptoms, his wife commented that his ear appeared “different,” and on palpation, he noted that his right ear was firmer and more swollen than his left. The patient was in good health with no similar swelling or tenderness elsewhere. He had no history of ear trauma and had never been a boxer or wrestler.

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