Definition

What is perichondritis?

Perichondritis is an infection of the skin and tissue surrounding the cartilage of the outer ear. Perichondritis can be destructive, recur, and last a long time.

How common is perichondritis?

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of perichondritis?

The common symptoms of perichondritis are:

  • Redness, pain, and swelling of the auricle
  • Fever
  • Pus accumulating between the cartilage and the layer of connective tissue around it (perichondrium)
  • Deformed ear (called cauliflower ear). This is caused when the pus cuts off the blood supply to the cartilage, destroying it.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you suffer any trauma to your ear (a scratch, blow, or piercing) and then develop pain and redness over the stiff part of the outer ear, contact your health care provider.

Or, if you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes perichondritis?

The most common bacteria that causes perichondritis infection is Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for perichondritis?

Injuries, insect bites, ear piercings through the cartilage, ear surgery, or a boil on the ear may cause perichondritis. Surgery, burns, and acupuncture also increase the risk of infection.

The infection also tends to occur in people who have inflammatory disorders, such as granulomatosis with polyangiitis (formerly known as Wegener granulomatosis), whose immune system is weakened, or who have diabetes.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is perichondritis diagnosed?

Perichondritis is diagnosed based on the person’s medical history and by looking at the ear. If there is a history of trauma to the ear and the ear is red and very tender, then perichondritis is diagnosed. There may be a change in the normal shape of the ear. The ear may look swollen.

How is perichondritis treated?

Treatment consists of antibiotics, either by mouth or directly into the bloodstream through an intravenous line (IV). If there is a trapped collection of pus, surgery may be necessary to drain this fluid and remove any dead skin and cartilage.

The treatment also include:

  • The removal of foreign objects
  • Pain relievers

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage perichondritis?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with perichondritis:

The best way to prevent this infection is to avoid piercing your ear through the cartilage (as opposed to the ear lobe). The popularity of cartilage piercing has led to a significant increase in the number of perichondritis and chondritis cases.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: October 24, 2017 | Last Modified: October 24, 2017

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