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Can Fam Physician. 2012 Nov;58(11):1222-4.

Acute otitis externa in children.

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  • 1BC Children's Hospital, Department of Pediatrics, Room K4-226, Ambulatory Care Bldg, 4480 Oak St, Vancouver, BC V6H 3V4.



In the summer months I see many children with uncomplicated acute otitis externa (AOE). I am aware of the multiple ototopical preparations. Which is the best first-line agent to treat AOE, and is there a role for an oral antibiotic?


There are no specific Canadian guidelines for the management of AOE. However, current American guidelines promote initial ototopical therapy without systemic antibiotics for uncomplicated AOE; suggest there is little difference between the various ototopical preparations; and recommend the choice of treatment be based on the specific clinical situation. In practice, this often results in prescribing an antibiotic-steroid formulation for 7 to 10 days. This ototopical treatment option is supported by a recent Cochrane review that has documented the superiority of an antibiotic-steroid combination when compared with placebo or acetic acid in providing clinical resolution of AOE.

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