Relapsing polychondritis

Clin Dermatol. Nov-Dec 2006;24(6):482-5. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2006.07.018.


Relapsing polychondritis is a rare disease most commonly presenting as inflammation of the cartilage of the ears and nose. Auricular chondritis, with red ears resembling infectious cellulitis, is the most common initial finding. Antibodies to type II collagen in cartilage are found, and the earlobes are classically spared. Chronic disease may result in a flabby, droopy ear, cauliflower ear, or saddle nose deformity. Acute involvement of the tracheal cartilage may cause collapse of the airway with obstruction and pulmonary infections. Arthritis may be oligoarticular or polyarticular, most often involving the costochondral junctions. Other manifestations include audiovestibular damage; heart valve disease; and neurologic, ocular, and renal disease. Corticosteroids remain the major treatment. Other therapies include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, dapsone, colchicine, azathioprine, methotrexate, cyclophosphamide, hydroxychloroquine, cyclosporine, and infliximab.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Antimetabolites / therapeutic use
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Polychondritis, Relapsing* / complications
  • Polychondritis, Relapsing* / drug therapy
  • Polychondritis, Relapsing* / pathology
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use*
  • Prognosis


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Antimetabolites
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Prednisone