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The ear cartilage gives shape to the outer ear.  If this is removed, the outer ear will lose its significant shape.  In cases of infection to the ear, it is dangerous to let outer ear infections affect the cartilage.  Like soft skin tissue, the cartilage can die without enough blood supply to the area.  Perchondritis, an ear infection affecting the cartilage can cause serious consequences if taken lightly.

Perichondritis is accompanied with greenish to brownish foul discharge that is secreted from the outer ear canal.  The condition becomes severe when the ear becomes thicker than usual.  At this point, antibiotic treatment has to be applied to prevent the outer ear from becoming deformed.

Perichondritis is caused either by direct trauma to the ear, or by a microorganism: Pseudomonas aeruginosa.  This microorganism can be found in decaying matter, soil, and water.  Accidental ear piercing, contact sports (e.g. boxing, wrestling) can injure the ear and start the onset of perichondritis.  The symptoms of the condition are:  fever, swelling of the affected area, tenderness and warmth.  The blood supply to the ear area is not abundant, hence bacteria grow rapidly.  When there is low supply to the ear area, the outer ear will be deformed.  The cartilage is “eaten” by the bacteria, and the ear grows big as cauliflowers.    

People who had burns and infected insect bites or boils along the outer ear are susceptible to perichondritis.  The condition rapidly progresses in diabetic people and those with weak immune system. Pus may develop along the infected area and travel to connective tissues.  Treating perichondritis will require draining of the pus.  In draining the pus, the doctor makes an incision.  When the pus is drained, the blood is supplied to the area again.  Oral or IV antibiotics will be prescribed.  Choice of the antibiotic will depend on the type of causative bacteria and degree of infection.  

When the infections gets to the ear cartilage, blood supply to the cartilage tissues will be blocked and the cartilage will wither.  When this happens, the outer ear has to be surgically removed before more damage can occur.  This should be enough warning to perichondritis infected patients.  Any ear trauma then followed by pain and redness should be immediately brought to the attention of health care providers.

The upsurge of high ear piercing (along the cartilage) and ear acupuncture has increased the number of people getting perichondritis.  Pus always occurs after the swelling after an injury to the ear.  Children should be protective from injury to the ears.  They should wear protective gear when engaging in contact sports.  If perichondritis is suspected, bring the child to the doctor immediately before any serious complications can occur
When an outer ear is damaged by perichondritis, it is removed.  Only cosmetic surgery can help people feel better about the looks.  Usually cosmetic surgery is used to help someone to look and feel better about his or her body, and regain their self-confidence.  Knowing about the dangers of trauma to the ear can warn people of its consequences.