Chris Schach

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Key Points
*Common inflammation of cartilage in the ear
*Exact cause is unknown, but condition is attributed to pressure on the cartilage during sleep, trauma to the cartilage, or exposure
*Consists of small papules or nodules on the upper surface of the ear, which are very tender

Chondrodermatitis nodularis helicis is a common condition, an inflammation of cartilage in the ear. Its presence can be attributed to one of several factors, including pressure on the ear during sleep in those persons who only sleep on one side, persistent trauma to the ear through use of tight headgear, and even exposure to cold temperatures. It consists of small papules or nodules which are painful and tender to the touch. In some cases, the center of these lesions will be scaly or crust over.

While Chondrodermatitis nodularis helicis can appear in anyone regardless of gender or age, it is most common in middle-aged to elderly men. A history of sun exposure increases the likelihood of developing the disorder.

Differential Diagnosis (Other conditions with similar appearance)

Actinic keratosis
Merkel cell carcinoma
Atypical fibroxanthoma
Perforating dermatoses
Basal cell carcinoma
Pseudocyst of the Auricle
Cystic chondromalacia
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Elastotic nodules of the ears

Key Points
*Diagnosis based on skin appearance
*Skin biopsy may be performed to rule out other conditions

Chondrodermatitis nodularis helicis is diagnosed based on skin appearance. A Skin biopsy may be performed to rule out other conditions, including some cancers, which have a similar appearance.

*Can be alleviated by removing the source of pressure or trauma to the ear, and protecting the ear from further trauma
*Goal of treatment is to control symptoms
*Several treatments exist which will decrease inflammation or remove the lesion completely

It is recommended that any source of pressure or trauma to the affected area be removed. Sleeping on the opposite ear, removing any tight or restrictive headgear, even the use of foam protectors or cotton balls taped just below the affected area can assist in removing the source of trauma and relieving symptoms.

In cases where nodules are particularly bothersome or a change in trauma patterns is not possible, health care professionals have a few options in treatment. These include Injections of triamcinolone to reduce inflammation, and surgical excision in the case of small lesions.

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