Wrestler’s Ear (Cauliflower Ear)

What is a Wrestler’s Ear?

Wrestler’s ear is also known as cauliflower ear and boxer’s ear and is an acquired deformity of the outer ear caused by blunt trauma to the ear. When the cartilage of the ear is injured by inflammation or trauma the blood flow and nutrients from the skin is interrupted causing a large pocket of blood known as a hematoma.

Cauliflower ear can also result from an infection in the ear lobe. As the injury heals it shrivels up and folds in on itself and appears pale making it look like a cauliflower.

The condition is common among those who engage in contact sports like boxing, wrestling, mixed martial arts, and rugby. Early treatment can help prevent permanent deformity.

What are the Symptoms of Wrestler’s Ear?

The ear may be red, swollen, or bruised and there may be a loss of hearing, headaches, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), blurred vision, severe bleeding, and facial swelling.

Wrestler’s Ear Causes

The most common cause for Wrestler’s Ear (also known as Cauliflower Ear) is a hit or multiple hits to the ear. In fact, it is due to these type of hits and the resulting damage that can occur during boxing or wrestling matches that the condition received its name.

This trauma then results in hematomas which is blood outside of the blood vessels which blocks the natural flow of nutrients. Sometimes, the ear lobe can become infected which might also lead to similar symptoms. When the ear is pierced in the upper portion, any resulting infection can generally bring on Wrestler’s Ear.

How is Wrestler’s Ear Treated?

Is designed to ease the blockage so that the blood can flow once again to the affected tissues and may involve the physician cutting and draining accumulated blood or removing a clot.

The physician may also reconnect tissues with stitches, apply a pressure dressing that will need to be kept in place for at least a week, and prescribe antibiotics.

Wrestler’s Ear Prevention

Since most of the cases of Wrestler’s Ear are due to sports-related injuries, it is possible to prevent most of this type of damage by wearing the proper type of protective head gear.

Companies such as Everlast and ASICS have many different versions of protective head gear and ear guards available on the market which bring innovative engineering and design together to meet the needs of those participating in contact sports.

In the sport of rugby, this type of headgear has a special nomenclature and is known as a “scrum cap”. These can also be equipped with even further padding for added protection while training or sparring while also remaining highly adjustable so that the products can be worn by anyone.

It is also very important that any trauma to the ear be evaluated by a qualified doctor, as Cauliflower Ear will generally continue to degrade the condition of the ear, resulting in an even worse cosmetic appearance if the necessary steps are not taken soon after the injury is first received.

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Last Reviewed:
October 09, 2016
Last Updated:
October 23, 2017