Cauliflower Ear - Cause

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What was the cause or type of injury that resulted in a cauliflower ear in you or someone you know?

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What causes cauliflower ear?

The ear is vulnerable to blunt trauma. When the ear is struck and a blood clot develops under the skin, or the skin is sheared from the cartilage, the connection of the skin to the cartilage is disrupted, causing cauliflower ear.

The cartilage of the ear has no other blood supply except that supplied by the overlying skin. When the skin is pulled from the cartilage, and/or separated from the cartilage by blood (as with accumulated blood from injury or inflammation, or infection), the cartilage is deprived of important nutrients. Ultimately, the cartilage dies and the risk of infection is increased.

Untreated, the ear cartilage contracts on itself forming a shriveled up outer ear, known as the cauliflower ear deformity. Once cartilage death and scarring (fibrosis) occurs, the resulting deformity is generally permanent. The ear may also appear pale, due to loss of blood supply. In some cases, cosmetic procedures may improve the appearance of the ear.

Cartilage damage may also result from piercing the upper ear in the cartilage. Piercing can lead to a type of ear cartilage infection called auricular perichondritis, which can result in cauliflower ear. An even more rare cause of cauliflower ear is from the inflammation of cartilage in relapsing polychondritis.

Picture of a normal ear, and cauliflower ear
Picture of a normal ear, and cauliflower ear
Return to Cauliflower Ear

See what others are saying

Comment from: HSwrestler, 13-18 Male (Patient) Published: January 25

I got cauliflower ear from going to wresting practice without wearing headgear.

Was this comment helpful?Yes
Comment from: Ragnar, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: May 30

I got mine from a head lock in Jiu-jitsu, which was then aggravated by an accidental knee to the head.

Was this comment helpful?Yes

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