Cauliflower Ear :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

Cauliflower Ear

What is cauliflower ear?

  • Cauliflower ear is the result of a direct blow to the outer ear.  Blood or other fluids fill the space in between and disrupts normal blood flow.
  • The skin on the surface of the ear is the only blood supply for the cartilage.   Without adequate blood flow, the cartilage is starved of vital nutrients. This can cause the tissue to become hard and fibrous, resulting in disfigurement.

What causes cauliflower ear?

  • A blunt force trauma to the outer ear causes a separation of the outer skin from the cartilage that forms the shape of our ears.

What are the symptoms?

  • Localized swelling and redness.
  • Skin irritation- fluid may build up on the outer portion of the ear.
  • This damage to the cartilage of the ear increases the risk of infection.

What can I do to feel better?

  • Rest.
  • Wear proper and well-fitting headgear appropriate for the specific sport.
  • Ice for 15-20 minutes at a time will help decrease swelling and pain.
  • Your doctor may be able to numb the ear and remove the fluid with a needle and syringe

When should I see a medical professional?

  • Due to the repetitive traumas, the potential for re-accumulation of blood is high.  The best time to fix an ear in this condition is as soon as possible after injury.
  • If you are uncertain about the severity of the condition.
 

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Nationwide Children's Hospital
700 Children's Drive Columbus, Ohio 43205 614.722.2000