Cauliflower ear is a deformity of the outer ear that is common in boxers. It usually develops in the event of blunt trauma to the ear. The following HealthHearty write-up provides information on this deformity.
Cauliflower ear is an outer ear deformity that is commonly seen in wrestlers, boxers, and rugby players. It is called so due to its characteristic symptom, which is the development of a pale, white fold or lump in the ear that resembles the shape of a cauliflower. This condition is not very common, and occurs mostly when one receives a series of violent blows to the ear. Due to this reason, it affects wrestlers, boxers, rugby players, or those who participate in martial arts.
When a person receives a really hard punch or a series of blows to the ear, it causes a blood clot to develop under the skin. It may also result in shearing of the skin from the cartilage. The cartilage receives blood through the skin, and when the blood supply gets disrupted, it cannot receive oxygenated blood and nutrients. The blood begins to accumulate under the skin, thereby causing hematoma. In the absence of prompt treatment, the cartilage gets shriveled up. This leads to a classic appearance of cauliflower ear. Gradually, the cartilage dies and there is no way to reconstruct it. If left untreated, the ear is left permanently deformed. There’s also the risk of infection due to the accumulation of blood, which is why, treatment must be administered soon.
Let’s understand how one could end up with this deformity. The symptoms include:
- When the ear receives repeated blows, the surrounding blood vessels get ruptured. This leads to internal blood leakage or bleeding. This blood begins to enter the tissues of the outer ear.
- This is followed by the formation of blood clots that hinder blood supply, as well as nutrient supply to the cartilage.
- The affected person is likely to experience symptoms such as redness, swelling, bruising, and ear pain in and around the injured skin.
- As the blood clots pull away the skin from the cartilage, the cartilage begins to shrivel and fold in on itself, giving it the pale and puffy, cauliflower-like shape.
In severe cases, trauma could even lead to symptoms such as loss of hearing, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), headaches, blurred vision, or facial swelling. Thus, timely diagnosis and treatment is essential. In the event of such an injury, ice should be applied to the affected ear to reduce the bleeding, hematoma, and the other symptoms of this ear deformity. Medical help must be sought as soon as possible.
The treatment would involve making a surgical incision and draining the fluid accumulated in the ear. Once local anesthesia has been administered, the otolaryngologist (ENT specialist) will make an incision along the edge of the hematoma. Once the fluid is drained, the injury is sutured and kept in situ for about 10 days with a compressive dressing. After that, the dressing is removed and cleaned. If required, a fresh dressing is applied. This procedure should be carried out within 7 days of injury. An over-the-counter painkiller might also be prescribed. Antibiotics may also be prescribed to lower the risk of ear infections.
The best way to prevent such a deformity is to prevent such an injury. You need to wear an appropriate headgear to prevent injury. Always make sure that you are wearing a protective gear when you are participating in such sports. If at all, one does receive an injury, seek medical help immediately to prevent disfigurement and damage.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.