Cauliflower ear is an external ear deformity caused due to traumatic injury to the ear. The condition is often observed in wrestlers, boxers and martial art players; however the deformity can develop in anyone who has an external ear injury.
Outer ear is made up of cartilage and skin. A blunt trauma to the ear can lead to hematoma between the cartilage and skin.
The condition requires to be treated as soon as possible because delay can lead to permanent damage. Home remedies do not work well in treating the condition. Patient has to consult the doctor for treatment.
What Are The Causes Of Cauliflower Ear?
Cauliflower ear is caused due to a blunt injury to the ears. A hard blow on the outer ear or repeated blows can cause hematoma between the skin and the ear cartilage. As a result the skin separates from the cartilage.
Since the cartilage has no other source of blood supply except that it gets from the overlying skin, it gets deprived of the nutrients due to disruption. With less or no supply, ear cartilage begins to shrivel and fold on to itself. Some of the blood may be absorbed, but it leaves behind the calcium deposits in the form of tiny hard bumps which have an appearance of surface of cauliflower.
Beside blunt trauma, infection in cartilage tissue can cause cauliflower ear. Piercing of cartilage has become a style status in younger age group. If infection sets in due to piercing, the risk of outer ear deformity increases.
Cauliflower ear is a common problem in people who play certain sports. Wrestlers, boxers, and martial art players are always at risk of suffering from cauliflower ear. A direct blow on ear which is common in boxing can cause the deformity. In case of wrestling, repeated forceful rubbing of head with the opponent can cause damage to the outer ear.
Symptoms Of Cauliflower Ears
The symptoms of cauliflower ear in the initial stage are most similar to symptoms that occur in any other part of body caused due to blunt injury. After the trauma or multiple blows on the ear, patient may have swelling of the outer ear. The ear may become red with signs of bruising.
If you do not take immediate treatment during this period, the affected ear may have deformed curvature which is we call it as cauliflower ear. Depending on the severity of injury, there may be associated hearing loss, bleeding from ear canal, perforation of ear drum etc.
Treatment For Cauliflower Ear
If you experience a blunt injury to your ear which leads to formation of hematoma, there is still a possibility of preventing permanent damage to ear cartilage. Main aim of treatment consists of drainage of collected blood. The more quickly it is recognized and performed, more promising are the results. If you have blunt trauma on your outer ear, you should always consult ENT specialties.
The doctor will aspirate out the blood from hematoma. He may introduce a needle and aspirate the blood through syringe. Another option is to make a small incision and allow the blood from hematoma to flow. After removal of the blood, the doctor sutures the incised wound. He will then put a pressure bandage on the ear.
Bandage provides support and allows the overlying skin to get attached to the cartilage. This ensures flow of blood to the cartilage and enhances the healing process. When the procedure is performed within 24 hours after the trauma, the outcome is good. After the procedure the surgeon may prescribe antibiotics and anti inflammatory medicines to prevent infection.
Cauliflower ear can be prevented by wearing suitable headgear. Wrestlers and boxers should wear the protective gear on their head and face to protect from severe injuries including the ear deformity, cauliflower ear.