Skin disorders cover a wide range of conditions, some benign, some very serious, and some even a sign of another underlying illness. A skin disorder not only affects your physical health, but also your emotional well-being.
Perichondritis is an infection of the skin and layer of tissue around the cartilage, most frequently of the external ear, following trauma or infection. When the infection involves the cartilage, the disease is called chondritis. It is due to a particular microorganism, Pseudomonas aeruginosa . There is a greenish or brownish, musty or foul-smelling discharge from the outer-ear canal, while the affected outer ear becomes tender, dusky red, and two to three times its normal thickness. Prompt antibiotic treatment is necessary to prevent permanent deformity of the outer ear.
Causes of Perichondritis
The outer ear, the part that sticks out from the side of your head, is a structure made almost exclusively out of skin and cartilage. Cartilage is a stiff tissue that forms the distinctive shape of the nose or ears.
All cartilage has a thin layer of tissue around it, called perichondrium, which helps to provide nutrients to the cartilage. Infection of this thin tissue, termed perichondritis, is usually caused by trauma to the ear, either accidental or as a result of ear surgery, ear piercing (especially piercing of the cartilage), or contact sports.
Ear piercing through the cartilage is probably the most significant risk factor today. The most common bacteria causing this infection are called Pseudomonas aeruginosa . While not a common infection, perichondritis may cause severe damage to the ear structure if it progresses to chondritis.
Signs and symptoms of Perichondritis
Perichondritis is usually incited by blunt trauma to the external ear. It presents with marked ear tenderness and overlying soft tissue swelling. The blood supply to the ear cartilage is somewhat fragile and bacterial infections can spread rapidly in this area. If medical attention is not sought, cartilage necrosis with long-term ear deformity may occur. Common signs of infection of the perichondrium are:-
Treatment for Perichondritis
The bacteria usually responsible is Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Is perichondritis preventable?
In most cases perichondritis is avoidable by simply leaving the upper ear alone and by wearing protective headgear when playing contact sports.
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