Have you ever seen someone whose ear looks bumpy and lumpy? The person might have
cauliflower ear. That sure is a funny name. Let's find out more about it.
Cauliflower ear occurs after someone gets a hit or repeated hits to the ear.
Wrestlers and boxers are more likely to have cauliflower ear because their ears may
be hit while they're in a match. These blows can damage the shape and
structure of the outside of the ear.
For cauliflower ear to form, the ear has to be struck hard enough for a large blood
clot (lump of blood) to develop under the skin. Another way cauliflower ear can happen
is when the ear's skin is stripped away from the cartilage,
the flexible material that gives a normal ear its shape.
This cartilage needs oxygen and nutrients carried by the flow of blood. A
tear, severe bruise, or
blood clot can block the blood flow. If that happens, the cartilage can die. Without
cartilage to keep its firm, rounded shape, the ear shrivels a bit and the cauliflower
look begins to appear. Once this happens, the person's ear may look like this permanently.
You may be wondering if there's any way to prevent cauliflower ear. Wearing the
right headgear when playing sports — especially contact sports —
is a must. Helmets not only can save you from developing cauliflower
ear but protect you from serious head injury as well. Always wear a helmet if you
are biking, blading, riding your scooter, or playing anysport
where helmets or other forms of headgear are recommended or required (like football,
baseball, hockey, boxing, or wrestling).
If someone receives a sharp blow to the ear, there are ways to prevent cauliflower
ear. A doctor can drain the blood from the ear through a cut and then reconnect
skin to the cartilage by applying a tight bandage. Sometimes stitches
are needed to sew the ear if the skin is badly ripped. The doctor may sometimes give
the patient antibiotics
to prevent an infection. If it's caught and treated early enough, a person usually
will not get cauliflower ear.
With a little protection, you can make sure that the only cauliflower you see is
on your dinner plate!