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Chondrodermatitis Helicis - Symptoms & Treatment


Chondrodermatitis helicis is a painful condition of the helix. The exact cause of Chondrodermatitis helicis is unknown, although most authorities believe it is caused by prolonged and excessive pressure. Several anatomic features of the ear predispose persons to the development of this condition. Chondrodermatitis helicis, or painful nodule of the ear, is an uncommon benign aural lesion which is seen and treated by dermatologists and otolaryngologists. It is most often seen in middle-aged men and results in a benign tender lump in the cartilaginous portion of the ear. The affected area may only be a few millimetres wide, but to lie on it causes exquisite discomfort. Trauma and sun exposure have traditionally been cited as possible inciting agents. This is a condition that usually afflicts the rim of the auricle of the ear. Lesions usually present as tender, irritated, skin-colored papules or erosions. They are often difficult to differentiate from basal or squamous cell carcinoma and therefore may need to undergo biopsy to rule these out. It occurs in all races but is most commonly found in fair skinned individuals. It generally affects men but in ten to thirty five percent of the cases it occurs in females.

Chondrodermatitis Helicis is a very common type of skin disorders but is very dangerous also. Patients typically present due to pain, which is initiated by pressure and is severe enough to wake them repeatedly at night. The age at the onset of the disease is common in both women and men. It is also attributed to cold, repeated trauma and actinic damage. In some cases, chondrodermatitis helicis may represent an ischemic necrobiotic disorder of collagen, potentially defining an important sign of underlying systemic disease in younger patients. It can be precipitated by minor trauma, such as tight headgear or a telephone headset, or by exposure to cold. Reduction in the local blood supply of the ear by a chilblain or with aging prevents adequate healing. The lesions are discrete, grey to red in color, oval shaped with raised rolled edges, and a central ulcer or depression which often contains a crust or scale. The lack of a thick, cushioning, subcutaneous layer in the auricle may predispose the underlying cartilage to pressure-induced ischemia and damage.

Causes of Chondrodermatitis helicis

The common causes and risk factor's of Chondrodermatitis helicis include the following:

  • Prolonged and excessive pressure.
  • Sleeping on the side of the involved ear.
  • Repeated trauma.
  • Cold exposure and actinic damage.
  • Injury to skin or to the underlying cartilage from pressure.
  • Reduced blood flow to the cartilage in the ear is responsible for this condition.

Symptoms of Chondrodermatitis helicis

Some sign and symptoms related to Chondrodermatitis helicis are as follows:

  • Pain in the nodules when they are pressed and when they get cold.
  • Muscle pain and stiffness.
  • The pain can be intense but is usually short-lived, though it can last for as long as an hour.
  • Bleeding.
  • Weight gain
  • Lesions are discrete, grey to red in color, oval shaped with raised rolled edges.
  • Weakness.

Treatment of Chondrodermatitis helicis

Here is list of the methods for treating Chondrodermatitis helicis:

  • Chondrodermatitis helicis is usually treated by surgical excision, but is prone to recurrence.
  • Wear a warm hat over the ears when outside in the cold and wind.
  • If the CNH is ulcerated, apply an antibiotic ointment under a light dressing.
  • Cortisone injections can also be used to treat chondrodermatitis helicis.
  • Topical antibiotics may relieve pain caused by secondary infections.
  • Cryotherapy also has been used as a treatment modality.

 

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