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Merck Manual

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Quick Facts



The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Apr 2020| Content last modified Apr 2020
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Topic Resources

What is perichondritis?

Perichondritis is an infection around the cartilage of your ear. Cartilage is the stiff but flexible material that gives your ear its shape.

  • Perichondritis is usually caused by an injury, piercing, burn, or bite

  • If you have diabetes or a weak immune system you’re more likely to get perichondritis

  • Your ear will get red, painful, and swollen

  • Pus may build up under the skin of your ear

  • Doctors will give you antibiotics and, if needed, make a small cut to let any pus out of your ear

What are the symptoms of perichondritis?

Symptoms include:

  • Redness, pain, and swelling of your ear

How do doctors treat perichondritis?

Doctors will:

  • Give you antibiotics by mouth

  • Remove any objects from your ear, such as earrings or splinters

  • Give you pain medicine

If you have an abscess (a collection of pus), doctors will:

  • Make a cut in your ear to drain the pus

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