A painful, red ear is the most common symptom. At first the infection will look like a skin infection (cellulitis), but it quickly worsens and involves the perichondrium.
The redness usually surrounds an area of injury, such as a cut or scrape. There may also be fever, and -- in more severe cases -- fluid draining from the wound.
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.
Guss J, Ruckenstein MJ. Infections of the external ear. In: Cummings CW, Flint PW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2010:chap 137.
© 2011 University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). All rights reserved.
UMMC is a member of the University of Maryland Medical System,
22 S. Greene Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. TDD: 1-800-735-2258 or 1.866.408.6885