Relapsing polychondritis is a rare noninfectious disorder that mimics perichondritis.
Perichondritis is treated with systemic antibiotics that include both pseudomonal and staphylococcal coverage. If untreated, infection may spread into the deeper cartilage of the ear (chondritis), causing more significant injury.
H61.009 – Unspecified perichondritis of external ear, unspecified ear
37600001 – Perichondritis
Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls
- Relapsing polychondritis – This does not spare the earlobe and will not respond to antibiotics. It may be diagnosed with biopsy.
- Neoplastic disease – Uncommon, but should be considered when symptoms include otalgia and nonhealing cutaneous lesions.
- Auricular hematoma (see chronic hematoma of pinna)
- Herpes zoster oticus – May have vesicular lesions.
- Allergic angioedema – Usually painless.
- Juvenile spring eruption – A sun reaction, usually bilateral, that may present in conjunction with plaques on the face or dorsal hands.
- Environmental injuries (see frostbite and sunburn)