Cauliflower Ear: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 6/29/2021

Cauliflower ear refers to an acquired physical deformity to the outer ear. As the ear injury heals, it can shrivel up and fold in on itself and appear pale, giving it a cauliflower-like appearance.

Cauliflower ear has also been referred to as boxer's ear or wrestler's ear. Signs and symptoms of cauliflower ear include a visible deformity of the outer ear that may appear shriveled or shrunken. In the acute stages of an ear injury,

Causes of cauliflower ear

Trauma, usually a direct blow to the outer ear, causes cauliflower ear. The condition appears most often in wrestlers, boxers, and those practicing other forms of combat sports. Cauliflower ear arises after an injury to the ear.

Other cauliflower ear symptoms and signs

  • Bruising
  • Pain
  • Swelling of the Area May Be Present
  • Visible Deformity of the Outer Ear That May Appear Shriveled or Shrunken


Ear infection or acute otitis media is an infection of the middle ear. See Answer

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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.