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Cauliflower Ear



  • Cauliflower ear is a lumpy or puffy outer ear that does not go away. It is caused by injury.
  • Treatment may include draining blood from the ear, bandaging to prevent swelling, or plastic surgery.


What is cauliflower ear?

Cauliflower ear is a lumpy or puffy outer ear that does not go away. It is also called wrestler’s ear or boxer’s ear.

What is the cause?

Cauliflower ear is caused by injury. It may be caused by repeatedly being hit in the ear in sports such as boxing and rugby. It may also be caused by ongoing rubbing or pressure on the ear in sports such as wrestling. It may also be caused by child abuse.

The injuries can cause blood to collect between the skin and cartilage in the ear. Cartilage is the tough but flexible tissue that gives your child’s ear its shape. The skin can pull away from the cartilage. If your child’s ear is injured many times, scar tissue forms and can change the way the ear looks. The scar tissue can block blood supply and make the ear bumpy and pale and look like a cauliflower.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may include pain, bruising, and swelling on and around the ear. Rarely there may be hearing loss.

How is it diagnosed?

Your child’s healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history and examine your child.

How is it treated?

If blood has collected between the skin and cartilage in your child’s ear, it may need to be drained by a healthcare provider as soon as possible. Quick treatment may prevent lasting damage to the tissue. Your child’s provider will put a tight dressing on your child’s ear to help decrease swelling and keep fluid from building up again. Your child’s provider may prescribe antibiotic medicine to prevent infection.

If scar tissue has already formed, your child may need plastic surgery on the ear to make it look normal.

How can I help prevent cauliflower ear?

Make sure that your child wears protective head gear for sports such as wrestling or boxing. If your child’s ear is injured, get prompt treatment to prevent cauliflower ear.

Developed by Change Healthcare.
Pediatric Advisor 2022.1 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2019-10-29
Last reviewed: 2018-12-18
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2022 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries
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