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Cauliflower Ear


  • Repeated injury to the ear caused by friction or impact
  • Common in contact sports such as rugby boxing and wrestling
  • Pain in the ear at the point of injury
  • Swelling and bruising of the ear
  • Ear appears deformed and abnormal
  • Loss of hearing and disorientation from strikes to the ear area
  • Application of ice
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Draining of blood through the ear
  • Compression dressing
  • Antibiotics

What is Cauliflower Ear?

Cauliflower ear occurs as a result of trauma to the ear causing disruption to the blood supply often resulting in a hematoma (blood pocket) to form on the ear. Once the injury has healed the ear begins to shrivel up and fold over itself causing a deformity of the outer ear. This injury is common in contact sports such as rugby, boxing and wrestling in which the ear is vulnerable to blows from opponents. Cauliflower ear may also occur as a result of infected cartilage piercings in due to clotting and therefore restricted blood supply.

Cauliflower Ear Symptoms

The most apparent symptom of cauliflower ear is the appearance of a deformed or abnormal looking ear in which the curve becomes swollen and misshapen. The severity of swelling, bruising and pain will depend on the severity of trauma to the ear. In severe cases patients suffer a loss of hearing or suffer hearing issues such as tinnitus (ringing in the ear) and sometimes suffer headaches or fuzzy vision.

Cauliflower Ear Treatment

In order to treat cauliflower ear application of ice to the injury should be undergone to reduce any swelling and inflammation as well as providing cooling pain relief to the injury. Dressings that provide compression are also advised to reduce the swelling. Anti-inflammatory medications can also be taken in order to reduce swelling as well as relieving pain or aching from the injury. The main aim of treatment is to drain the blood from the ear to allow the cartilage to reconnect with the skin. A doctor will usually make an incision in the ear whilst keeping the area compressed allowing the ear to drain and inflammation to decrease. A doctor may also prescribe antibiotics to prevent any infection occurring in the ear.