Otophyma: Ear Swelling and Extra Growth

Written by on January 27, 2008 in Rhinophyma, swelling with 3 Comments

Hot on the tails of the recent paper about getting rosacea on areas other than your face comes this paper about rosacea related swelling and growth of the ear. This case report covers a patient who had an enlarged ear which was found to be caused by the same sort of rosacea growth seen in rhinophyma – called lymphedema. An additional suggestion is that demodex mites had some involvement.

For those interested in treating `rosacea ear’ I have included some recent rhinophyma articles below that are worth a read.

Otophyma: A Case Report and Review of the Literature of Lymphedema (Elephantiasis) of the Ear., Am J Dermatopathol. 2008 Feb;30(1):67-72, Carlson JA, Mazza J, Kircher K, Tran TA

Phymas (swellings, masses, or bulbs) are considered the end-stage of rosacea and mostly affect the nose (rhinophyma), and rarely involve the chin (gnatophyma), the cheek (metophyma), eyelids (blepharophyma), or ears (otophyma).

Herein, we report the case of a 57-year-old man who developed unilateral enlargement of his left ear over 2 years. Biopsy revealed changes of rosaceous lymphedema associated with Demodex infestation. Corticosteroid and minocycline therapies resulted in partial reduction of the ear enlargement.

Literature review examining for cases of lymphedema (elephantiasis) of the ear revealed that chronic inflammatory disorders (rosacea (most frequent), psoriasis, eczema), bacterial cellulitis (erysipelas), pediculosis, trauma, and primary (congenital) lymphedema can all lead to localized, lymphedematous enlargement of the ear. Depending on the severity, medical treatment directed at the inflammatory condition for mild, diffuse enlargement to surgical debulking for extensive diffuse enlargement or tumor formation can improve the signs and symptoms of otophyma.

Decreased immune surveillance secondary to rosaceous lymphedema may explain why Demodex infestation is common in rosacea and support the suspicion that phymatous skin is predisposed to skin cancer development.

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About the Author

About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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3 Reader Comments

  1. ben says:

    I have really bad ear flushing, I hope it never turns into ear swelling…

  2. Michelle says:

    I have swelling on the cheeks that is nearly almost permanent with constant stinging and burning , I have been told I have mild Rosacea, I dont think so!! Just because I do not have pustules and papules , i have broken capilliaries but not that many , I am a rare case and under investigation , biopsies have come back normal but i am in severe pain, have flushing episodes,my ears, my eye lids have broken veins.

  3. david says:

    After a course of roaccutane, I developed a rapid onset form of rosacea which is now affecting my ears. My dermatologist said has
    Never seen such a rapid onset before. I’m t aking bactrim which is helping with my face and neck, but not the ears. I will be growing
    My hair long over the ears to cover it up i n public, it’s not a good look

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