it's really called cauliflower ear!!
Everything you need to know about cauliflower ears
Common amongst MMA fighters and wrestlers, a cauliflower ear (or
auricular haematoma) occurs when there is bleeding between the skin and
the cartilage of the outer ear. The cartilage becomes separated from its
blood supply, and if it is not treated will eventually die. Scar tissue
is formed, which causes the well known deformity.
How does it happen?
It is usually the result of friction or blunt trauma to the ear. This
can happen with a strike that hits the ear, or from impact during
grappling. Wrestlers are particularly vulnerable because of the frequent
contact between head and opponent.
What does it feel like?
Cauliflower ears can be very painful in the early stages. They
usually feel hot and swollen, and sore and squishy to touch. If
untreated, this pain will reduce over the course of a few weeks, the
lump will become hardened as the fluid is replaced by scar tissue.
How can I prevent it from happening to me?
Ear guards are
a very reliable way of preventing cauliflower ear, except that few of
us wear them consistently enough! Most fighters will use them only when
the ear starts getting sore, or after a recent cauliflower ear. This is
usually too late to prevent the damage, but does reduce pain in
My ear has swollen up, what do I do now?
If caught early enough, it’s possible to prevent a cauliflower ear
from turning into a permanent deformity. Treatment consists of draining
the fluid from the lump on the ear with a hypodermic needle and syringe.
After draining the ear, it’s important to compress the area for 24-48 hours to prevent it from refilling with blood.
There are various methods for doing this; a common and effective way is
to pack cotton wool on both sides of the ear, and bandage it to the
side of the head.
This should all be carried out by a doctor, nurse or other qualified health care provider.
Some fighters prefer to drain their own cauliflower ears. We wouldn’t
recommend this. The main risk involved is infection – it is very important to ensure that the skin of the ear, the needle, and all the materials being used are all adequately disinfected.
When can I go back to training?
Some fighters will carry on training quite happily with a cauliflower
ear. Ear guards can reduce the pain, and the likely worst case is that
you end up with a grossly deformed ear.
If you prefer to keep your good looks intact and get the ear drained,
then it is best to take a week to ten days off training afterwards
while the ear heals – otherwise you’re likely to find yourself right
back where you started.
What long term problems is it likely to cause?
Old cauliflower ears are rarely painful, and some mixed martial
artists even welcome them as a “badge of honour”. However, aside from
putting an end to your modelling career and restricting your choice of
earphones, cauliflower ears can also affect your hearing so it is better
to get them treated early.
What will my ear end up looking like?
Cauliflower ears vary greatly depending on how you treat them. Here’s a selection that we’ve collected, at various stages!