What is Cauliflower Ear? 5 Odd Symptoms

The normal ear is quite an essential and delicate organ of the human body. But have you ever examined a wrestler’s ear while attending a wrestling match on the field or watching it online? There is something unique about a few of the wrestler’s ears, like an acquired defect in the outer ear cartilage, known as a Cauliflower Ear.

Here we will briefly study the symptoms, causes, risk factors, prevention, and treatment for cauliflower ear1. So, gear up to adventure the trauma of Cauliflower ear!

1. What is Cauliflower Ear?

The term “Cauliflower Ear” relates to the deformity in the human’s outer ear,2 perhaps by blunt trauma to the ear cartilage or some ear injury during martial arts.

Whenever a wrestler is hit or injured by direct trauma, the blood flow accumulates in the ear lobe, i.e., the lower portion of the outer ear. This disturbs the blood supply.

As a result of the accumulation of blood in the blood vessels, the term Cauliflower Ear is called a perichondrial hematoma.3

Also, when the outer ear cures, it dries and gets folded. The ear appears dull, light in colour, and cauliflower-like appearance. Hence, it is named the Cauliflower ear.

Who Is at Risk?

By Tima Miroshnichenko/Pexels. Copyright 2022

The rising incidence of trauma to the ear puts anyone at risk of infection of the cauliflower ear. In sports like wrestling, MMA, mixed martial arts, and boxing, factors of deformity are common.

Hence, protective headgear is a must.

2. Causes 

The ear is sensitive to blunt trauma and the outer ear is formed of cartilage, a flexible tissue.

When an ear injury occurs, the blood clots and pools between the auricular hematoma and the cartilage. The perichondrium is a connective tissue covering the cartilage. Its primary purpose is to supply blood and fibres to the ear cartilage.

The ear cartilage becomes devoid of nourishment whenever the blood flow stops and is left untreated. It not only contributes to disease but also cartilage death.

Once the ear swelling occurs, new fibrous tissue clusters around the swelled area of the underlying cartilage. Then the possibility of a developing cauliflower ear occurs.

Here’s a video explaining in simple steps the cause of cauliflower ear:

What Causes Cauliflower Ear?

3. Cauliflower Ear-5 Odd Symptoms of Outer Ear Trauma

The symptoms of direct trauma pivot around the rigidity of the ear caused due to injuries or severe cases.

3.1. Tinnitus

Do you hear noises or any ringing in your ears without external damage?

The experience caused is Tinnitus, a common problem. Having Tinnitus makes you experience stress, memory loss, fatigue, and pain.

Learn more about its symptoms and causes here!

3.2. Headaches

By Alex Green/Pexels. Copyright 2022

The major symptom of headaches is pain in the head or face.

This can be throbbing, sharp, dull, or constant. We can recover from headaches with proper medicines, stress relief care, and meditation.

3.3. Facial Swelling

Facial swelling, known as facial edema, is a sign of anaphylaxis.

Swelling occurs not only on the face but also on the neck and throat. A swollen face due to allergies may lead to nasal congestion, dizziness, itching, and watery eyes.

Read about the daily Dos of Dermatology.

Cauliflower Ear - Daily Do's of Dermatology

3.4. Deformity of the Curvature of the Ear

Outer ear deformity may be diagnosed in a person from birth. Individuals with minute and mild ear deformities require no treatment.

In severe cases of ear trauma, surgical and non-surgical treatment of cauliflower ear is essential. This will restore the structure and hearing of the ear.

3.5. Hearing Loss

The loss of hearing tests a person’s quality of life. The inability to listen may be bestowed in young babies during birth or may be acquired later phase as you age or get injured.

Here is a detailed view of the deformity by the Mayo Clinic.

Also, bruising, blurred vision, and pain are a few common symptoms of cauliflower ear.

Thus, early treatment should be practiced if the deformity of the existing cauliflower ear is severe. As a result, if there is no cure, the current cauliflower ear will be a permanent deformity forever!

4. Treatment 

Cauliflower Ear Treatment
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4.1. Initial treatment

  1. As soon as the injury develops, cover it with ice.
  2. Keep applying the ice for 10- 15 minutes.
  3. This procedure may help reduce swelling. Subsequently, cauliflower ear may be prevented.
  4. If the injury is severe, the best recipe is doctor’s care!

4.2. Medical Attention

Doctors try to drain the blood supply from the ear to normalize the condition. After that, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics and other medicines to avert the infection.

The cauliflower ear may also reappear. Hence, it is necessary to pamper your swelled ear even if the blood has been drained.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – 

1. Can cauliflower ear be fixed?

We know the Cauliflower ear is a permanent deformity. But in some situations, the appearance of cauliflower ear4 may be treated using such surgery as otoplasty.

After surgery, you should be able to resume physical activities within six weeks, though your doctor may recommend waiting longer.

2. What happens if you ignore cauliflower ear?

It is crucial to see a doctor as soon as symptoms appear. The cartilage can die if untreated, causing a persistent deformity that is very challenging to restore.

Takeaway- Healthy Ears!

As stated earlier, the outer ear is the most delicate overlying skin in the human body and hence, proper ear care is a must.

Is there a hope of preventing cauliflower ear? Well, the best prevention is avoiding direct trauma in the first place! Consider wearing protective headgear and a helmet to prevent cauliflower ears for sports. Being aware of repeated hits is also necessary.

And if yus suffer from cauliflower ear, you should avoid trauma-causing activities till the ear is recovered. Also, before resuming to normal daily lifestyle, consider consulting the doctor again!

Also, do you know what a Blood Blister is? Let’s have an overview of it!

  1. Greywoode, Jewel D., Edmund A. Pribitkin, and Howard Krein. “Management of auricular hematoma and the cauliflower ear.” Facial Plastic Surgery 26.06 (2010): 451-455. ↩︎
  2. PHELPS, PETER D., DAVID POSWILLO, and GLYN AS LLOYD. “The ear deformities in mandibulofacial dysostosis (Treacher Collins syndrome).” Clinical Otolaryngology & Allied Sciences 6.1 (1981): 15-28. ↩︎
  3. O’Donnell, Brian Patrick, and Yehuda David Eliezri. “The surgical treatment of traumatic hematoma of the auricle.” Dermatologic surgery 25.10 (1999): 803-805. ↩︎
  4. Kordi, Ramin, et al. “Cauliflower ear and skin infections among wrestlers in Tehran.” Journal of Sports Science & Medicine 6.CSSI-2 (2007): 39. ↩︎

Last Updated on by ayeshayusuf



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