Perichondritis

Definition

Perichondritis is an infection of the outer part of the ear. It occurs in the cartilage and is usually caused by ear piercing where hygiene is lax.

Causes

Ineffective infection control, unsterilized needles and piercing equipment.

Symptoms

Infection usually develops about four weeks after the piercing. The ear becomes red and swollen around the piercing site, and is painful. Touching the inflammation is very painful. A high temperature and fever may also accompany severe symptoms.

Diagnosis

Visual examination by a doctor.

Treatment

Early treatment with antibiotics can stop permanent damage. If untreated, or if antibiotics don’t work, the ear may fill with fluid. This fluid must be drained to avoid further damage and any dead tissue removed. Surgery may have to be performed which can result in the ear having a “cauliflower deformity.” Damage to the ear may be permanent and not repairable by plastic surgery.