An ear laceration refers to a cut or tear in the skin or cartilaginous structure of the ear caused by an ear injury. Scroll down to find out how such ear injuries can be treated.
Eyes, nose, ears, tongue and skin are the five sensory organs of the human body. The ears not only help us hear varied sounds, but also help in maintaining balance or equilibrium of the body. The ear is divided into the outer ear, middle and inner ear. Hearing is facilitated by the collective work of the structures located in these three sections. If one suffers from trauma that causes the skin to tear and causes damage to the blood vessels or structures that lie under the skin, one must seek medical assistance immediately.
An ear laceration not only makes one susceptible to ear infections, but also puts one at an increased risk of developing ear deformities in absence of medical treatment.
As mentioned earlier, a laceration refers to cut or a tear into the skin that is caused by an injury. A lacerated ear could be caused due to a wide range of reasons. Trauma to the ear may occur if one receives a severe blow to the ear. Those who participate in contact sports are definitely more susceptible to such injuries. Those who participate in boxing, wrestling or martial arts are definitely at an increased risk of suffering from such injuries. The impact or extent of damage to the ear would naturally vary depending on the force with which the ear is hit.
The laceration of the outer ear is basically categorized into simple or complex laceration. While a simple laceration is characterized by a tear in the skin, a complex laceration involves tearing of the cartilage as well. Other structures that might get affected in event of an ear injury include perichondrium, which is a thin membrane that lies between the cartilage and the skin.
Connective tissue, blood vessels, nerves or structures that lie in the middle ear or the inner ear could also get damaged. Trauma to these structures may also occur in event of improper handling of sharp instruments during an ear checkup. One’s ear may become lacerated if the skin is pierced by sharp surgical instruments during an otoplasty. In case of women, donning very heavy earrings can also lead to tearing of the skin.
The symptoms that are most likely to accompany a wounded ear include bleeding, bruising, swelling and a stabbing pain in the ear. If left untreated, one may suffer from a secondary infection. At times, ear deformities such as cauliflower ear may also develop as a complication of ear injury. Cauliflower ear is an ear deformity which is characterized by scarring of auricle, which is the visible cartilaginous structure of the outer ear. The auricle may also get shriveled.
If ear injuries are not attended to, soon enough, one is at an increased risk of suffering from infections or temporary/permanent hearing problems. A person who has suffered from an ear injury, must therefore, seek medical help immediately. In case of a simple ear laceration, the treatment involves wound irrigation, followed by repair.
Generally basic suture techniques, followed by application of a medicated compressive dressing would suffice. Application of compressive dressing helps in minimizing the blood loss. Painkillers are usually recommended so as to provide relief from discomfort and pain. Antibiotics would also be prescribed so as to lower the risk of bacterial infections.
At times, injury leads to hematoma, which refers to the accumulation of blood under the skin. Under these circumstances, doctors would make an incision in order to drain the blood. If the blood supply to tissues has been cut off, then laceration repair would involve debridement of the necrotic tissue. If the cartilage has also been damaged and skin has torn away, the skin and the membrane layer that lies between the cartilage and skin must be sutured with an absorbable suture.
The cartilage must not remain exposed and if the skin is not enough to cover the cartilage, a small amount of cartilage can be removed. After the removal of the cartilage, skin would be stitched back and dressing would be applied over the affected ear. It’s extremely important that the patient follows after care measures. One must take ample rest and refrain from any activity that may affect the healing process.
Blunt as well as penetrating trauma to the ear can not only injure the skin, but may also adversely affect the appearance of the ear. At times, the internal structures that facilitate hearing can also get damaged due to traumatic injuries. It is therefore, essential that an ear injury is treated at the earliest.