Cauliflower Ear

Cauliflower ear is a medical condition that results in a deformity of the ear. Since this condition is caused by blunt trauma or other injuries, it should come as no surprise that boxers and wrestlers are more likely to develop cauliflower ear. If an injury is left untreated, it prevents proper blood flow, which can damage the tissue. This causes a bumpy or lumpy appearance on part of the ear.

Wearing the proper type of protective headgear can prevent this type of injury.


A hit, or hits, to the ear is the most common cause of cauliflower ear. This trauma can lead to a collection of blood clots, known as hematomas, that can block the flow of blood to the ear.

When blood flow is blocked, the cartilage may die. Without the support from the cartilage, the ear will begin to fold in on itself. In many cases, scar tissue will form; this will contribute to the swollen and deformed look.

Those who participate in close-contact sports, such as wrestling or boxing, are more likely to experience cauliflower ear. But athletes are not the only ones who can develop this condition. Trauma to the ear from an accident or a physical altercation as well as an infection in the ear can lead to cauliflower ear.


The initial symptoms of cauliflower ear are similar to any blunt trauma – swelling and bruising. After sustaining multiple injuries, the ear will begin to fold in on itself. The bumpy and lumpy appearance of the ear will begin to resemble cauliflower.


While the best way to prevent cauliflower ear is to wear proper head protection, if you do get hit in the ear, there are treatments to prevent the condition from developing.

Your doctor will make a small incision in your ear to drain any accumulated blood and remove a clot to prevent further bleeding. The incision may be closed with stitches or a special bandage to put pressure on the area. This dressing will be in place for several days to a week.

Antibiotics may also be prescribed to prevent infection.

Call Heritage First Ear, Nose & Throat at 717-728-9700 for more information or to schedule an appointment.