Among those who engage in mixed martial arts or boxing, cauliflower ear is a likely condition. It is characterized as an ear that appears lumpy and deformed. The condition is the result of repeated injury to the ear and while it is common in contact sports, it can occur any time an individual sustains significant trauma to the ear.
Causes of cauliflower ear
Once an individual sustains trauma to the cartilage of the exterior ear, the blood vessels that provide nourishment to the tissue can be compromised. This can result to the formation of a hematoma which is a collection of blood below the tissue. Due to reasons still unclear, the manifestation of a hematoma can essentially kindle the growth of new cartilage. This new cartilage is usually asymmetrical and appears lumpy or deformed.
Indications of cauliflower ear
The initial symptoms manifest right after the ear is injured and includes the following:
- Ear pain
- Swelling of the ear
In case the area becomes infected, symptoms such as fever, increased pain and redness as well as drainage of pus can occur within days. If left untreated, deformity of the ear cartilage occurs.
Preventing the injury is the initial stage in averting cauliflower ear. Using the appropriate head gear while engaging in combat sports or any contact sport can minimize the risk for developing cauliflower ear.
Even if an injury occurs, it can be prevented by seeking proper medical care right away. Nevertheless, many professional athletes fail to observe these measures. Some are not aware of the seriousness of the injury or do not know that cauliflower ear can be prevented with proper treatment.
For those who sustained trauma to the exterior region of the ear, it is vital to consult a doctor as soon as possible. Once auricular hematoma occurs, drainage of the hematoma and proper care to prevent it from returning can prevent the development of cauliflower ear.
Treatment for cauliflower ear
Prompt management of the initial injury can reduce the risk of ending up with cauliflower ear. Even if the injury does not appear serious, it should be assessed by a doctor right away. If a hematoma is present, the doctor will drain it to restore proper flow of blood.
Preventing the recurring of hematoma is achieved by special stitches or a special bandage called pressure dressing.
In case cauliflower ear occurs, the deformity can be fixed or enhanced with cosmetic surgery. Some professional athletes might wait until they retired from the sport before undergoing this procedure.