Cauliflower ear is a deformity that is characterized by the development of a fold or lump in the ear that looks similar to the shape of a cauliflower. This write-up provides information on the causes, symptoms, and treatment of this deformity.
A person is at a risk of developing cauliflower ear, if he receives a blow or a series of blows to the ear. A severe blow to the ear can cause the tearing of the cartilage from the skin. In case of people affected by this ear deformity, the pinna, which is the visible cartilaginous structure of the external ear, can get shriveled. When the ear folds in on itself, it looks quite similar to a cauliflower, hence the name. Those who play contact sports such as boxing and wrestling are more susceptible to this condition. This is the reason why this condition is also referred to as the boxer’s ear or the wrestler’s ear.
Contributing Factors and Symptoms
Martial artists, wrestlers, boxers, rugby players, and those who play other contact sports are at an increased risk of developing this condition. When one receives multiple blows or a very hard blow, the cartilaginous structure that lends shape to the external ear can get ruptured. At times, the connection between the skin and the cartilage may get disturbed. The formation of blood clots under the skin can restrict the flow of blood to the cartilage.
☞ When the cartilage is unable to receive the much-needed supply of blood, oxygen, and the nutrients, not only is the healing process disrupted, the shape of the cartilage might get altered.
☞ The accumulation of pus or fluid in the ear might be a precursor to an ear infection.
☞ The ear cartilage might fold in on itself and lend a shriveled look to the pinna.
☞ The lack of blood supply can cause the external ear to turn pale and scarring might also affect the appearance of the external ear.
☞ The affected person might even experience severe ear pain, if medical help is not sought on time.
☞ In event of the death of cartilage, the correction of this deformity might become more difficult.
Severe ear injuries can cause blood to accumulate under the skin, and this could give rise to the formation of hematoma. If left untreated, hematoma could cause an ear infection. Besides the risk of ear infection, such injuries can also damage the eardrum and cause hearing loss. It is therefore important to seek medical assistance at the earliest.
The treatment of this condition generally involves making a small incision and draining off the fluid that has accumulated in the ear. Once the fluid, pus, or blood clots are removed, the blood supply to the cartilage will be restored and this will speed up the healing process. If the injury is severe, and the cartilage has been torn away from the skin, the skin will need to be stitched back. Perichondrium and cartilage will need to be reconnected, so as to prevent a buildup of fluid.
Besides the application of a compressive dressing, antibiotics and painkillers might also be prescribed for lowering the risk of infection and providing relief from pain. If one is unable to consult a doctor immediately, here are some self-care measures that can be followed:
☞ Get hold of an antibacterial solution, syringe, and a compressive bandage
☞ Clean the ear with an antibacterial solution
☞ Drain the blood with a sterilized syringe
☞ Once the fluid has been drained, clean the ear again, and apply the compressive bandage
Though this method will help prevent an infection, medical help must be sought if one has sustained a severe injury.
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.