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Cauliflower ear, better known as wrestler’s ear, is an ear deformity that occurs after the ear cartilage has been damaged. When the ear is initially struck by force it develops an auricular hematoma. This auricular hematoma does swell and gets red initially but over time the swelling goes away and becomes hardened cartilage.
Does Cauliflower Ear Hurt?
After the cartridge has hardened in the ear after the initial impact cauliflower ear does not really hurt. The most painful part of getting cauliflower ear is the initial blow and dealing with the swelling that comes afterward.
It is important to note that the term ‘cauliflower ear’ refers to when the ear cartilage is healed after the initial impact it had taken to cause swelling.
What Is It, Causes, Treatment, and More
What is Cauliflower ear?
Cauliflower ear is the most common deformity in grappling-based martial arts like jiu-jitsu, judo, wrestling, and MMA. Cauliflower ear occurs when the ear canal is damaged by an excessive amount of impact.
Cauliflower ear may occur when blood that collects in the ear canal after an injury isn’t drained properly or becomes infected.
What Causes Cauliflower ear?
Common causes of the ear deformity are just excessive impact to the ear cartridge from sports, such as wrestling, boxing, or mixed martial arts. Truthfully, cauliflower ear is not as gross as it sounds (or looks). All that our ear is made of is cartilage so when that cartilage gets damaged, blood flows to it making it look a little more puffy or sensitive to touch.
Some people may get turned off when they initially see it but if you get it in the martial arts world, it is a badge of honor.
What is the treatment for cauliflower ear?
The treatment for cauliflower ear is pretty simple. When you start to notice your ear getting sore or tender to touch you have a couple of options. The options are to relax on the amount of time you train, get protective headgear and wear it, or do nothing.
If you do nothing your ear will eventually swell if it keeps getting hit (the likelihood of this happening is high).
If cauliflower ear is left untreated or you decide to do nothing when the swelling starts to occur you risk having severe symptoms or severe amounts of deformity being caused to the ear. Over time your ear will start to resemble just a giant blob that will be very noticeable by people with its lumpy appearance. At this point your ear will have this permanent deformity and the only way you could fix it would be through corrective surgery.
Who does cauliflower ear affect?
Cauliflower ear can really happen to anyone who is doing any kind of contact sport but it is most commonly happening to those that go down the combat sports route. It is most common for those who box, wrestle, train BJJ, or other forms of grappling to develop cauliflower ear. Everyone’s ear is different and some may be more sensitive than others so some people while get it faster than others or may not even develop it.
Symptoms of cauliflower ear are pretty noticeable and it is not a contagious thing. It takes blunt trauma to the ear cartilage to cause the cauliflower ear to start.
What are the signs and symptoms of cauliflower ear?
Some of the symptoms of cauliflower ear include:
Swelling of the ear
Blood accumulation on the ear cartlidge
Redness of the ear
Soreness and sensitivity of the ear
Can I prevent cauliflower ear?
Yes, cauliflower ear is preventable. It is easy to prevent cauliflower ear by wearing headgear as often as possible. If you do not want to wear protective headgear every time you train, just wear it when you start to experience some soreness or tenderness around the ears. It should be noted that if you wait to wear the headgear you may already have small amounts of cauliflower ear forming.
Does cauliflower ear go away?
The only way to get rid of cauliflower ear is by having corrective surgery. This typically costs thousands of dollars and is more of a cosmetic surgery. Cauliflower ear, in most cases, does not cause harm to the ability to hear. It is nothing that really needs to be corrected unless you just don’t like the appearance of your ear.
Most people who end up having the ear deformity wear it as a badge of honor. You won’t find many fighters that have the desire to correct the way their ear looks after developing cauliflower ear.