Perichondritis is an infection that affects the tissues that surround and nourishes the cartilage that comprises the exterior ear. It is oftentimes called as auricular perichondritis. The usual causes are trauma to the tissue and the following:
- Surgical trauma
- Ear piercing
- Sports injuries
- Poorly managed otitis media
- Lacerations or cuts on the ear
Since piercing the cartilage of the exterior ear is a common trend, it seems to be the most common cause of perichondritis. Always bear in mind that the condition is typically triggered by the pseudomonas aeruginosis bacteria but also triggered by other forms of bacteria including streptococcus pyogenes and streptococcus aureus.
Signs and symptoms of perichondritis
- Drainage of pus
- Deformity of the ear structure (severe cases)
How the condition is diagnosed?
A diagnosis of perichondritis is usually based on the history of trauma to the ear and the appearance of the area infected. In the early phases, perichondritis appears similar to cellulitis.
The management of perichondritis involves antibiotics. Depending on the severity of the infection, antibiotics are given orally or administered intravenously.
In severe cases that involves trapped pus and fluid, surgery might be needed. The doctor will create a small-sized incision and remove pus and other debris from the wound. Antibiotics is still needed after the procedure. In case the infection is severe enough that results to deformity of the ear, certain parts of the ear might be removed. In such cases, plastic surgery is required to reconstruct the ear and restore its normal appearance.
Autoimmune perichondritis is managed with steroid medications such as prednisone to repress the immune response as well as stop it from attacking the ear cartilage. With other forms of perichondritis, cosmetic surgery is needed to correct the deformity.
Oftentimes, perichondritis could not be prevented such as during accidents. Nevertheless, piercing the ear cartilage puts the individual at higher risk for developing the infection. Having several piercings can increase the risk. If the condition is detected early and treated properly, full recovery is expected.