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Cauliflower Ear: Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

  • Posted on- Aug 26, 2015
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Have you ever noticed some people ears look deformed and like a cauliflower? It is called cauliflower ear. It is a kind of deformity usually found among boxers, professional wrestlers, amateur wrestlers, jiu-jitsu practitioners, rugby players, judo practitioners, and mixed martial artists who engage in rough contact sports. Ear piercings on the upper ear into the cartilage can also cause cauliflower ears if infected. The medical term for cauliflower ears is known as hematoma auris, perichondrial hematoma and/or traumatic auricular hematoma.

Incessant impact and rubbing of the ear causes blunt trauma to the external ear, thus separating the underlying cartilage from the skin leading to hematoma. Blood clot and other fluids therefore cause the ear to be deformed and swollen giving it the lumpy cauliflower look. If not treated the fluids harden and become permanent. Once hardened, only plastic surgery can correct the deformity. Some of the possible symptoms include but not limited to soreness, redness, ear aches, headaches, sleepless nights, and possible hearing loss if the condition is not treated in the long-term.

Causes of Cauliflower ear

Cauliflower ear is caused due to repeated strikes on the cartilage which gives shape and support to the ears. The cartilage can be damaged or torn which causes blood clots to form under the skin preventing the flow of blood reaching the damaged parts of the ear. When the blood flow is restricted the healing process will be hindered because the supply of oxygen and other essential nutrients will be blocked. So the cartilage will remain permanently damaged. This causes the cartilage to shrink and take the shape of a cauliflower head. Some of the symptoms include a puffy look of the earlobe, ear pain, ear soreness, and presence of pus and blood etc.

Cauliflower Ear Diagnosis and Treatment

As soon as the injury is caused, immediately place ice to the affected area. It is always best to seek medical help for avoiding the formation of Hematoma Auris. The fluid collected under the skin has to be removed immediately to aid blood flow to the damaged area and speed up the healing process. The treatment is carried out by making an incision on the damaged area to remove the blood clot. The area is also cleaned to remove other debris and bacteria and covered with a sterile dressing which could be in place for about 7 days. After this period, the wound will be reassessed and the treatment will be continued according to the condition. Painkillers may also be administered to relieve pain and discomfort during the period of treatment. Most often, the patients are also given antibiotics to prevent infection. During the treatment period it is better to refrain from such activities which could again cause injuries to the ear.

Prevention of Cauliflower ear

The best way to prevent such conditions is to refrain from activities which cause these types of injuries. However, if you are a passionate about your training you must wear the proper protection gear to guard your head and ears from contact. It is however recommended to take 7 - 14 days off from training if you have drained your ears, even if you have ear guards. The fact is that you cannot afford to have anything touch your ears because of possible re-injury or germs and sweat causing an infection. While selecting the proper head guard, ensure that it fits properly and covers the entire ear with the proper clearance so it is not touching your ears. This will keep your ears also protected from such injuries which could permanently damage your ears. So, whenever you are injured, it is always better to seek immediate help to prevent the formation of cauliflower ear.


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