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Close look on cauliflower ear

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Cauliflower ear or auricular hematoma is an injury to the outer ear that causes internal bleeding and inflammation which results to the puffed up appearance of the top area of ear. It is usually due to a direct injury, excessive friction from rubbing or constant trauma to the ear. This injury is usually common among individuals who engage in wrestling, mixed martial arts, boxing, water polo and rugby.

Causes

  • Constantly hitting the ears that result to hematomas which are small clots of blood that block the flow of blood and nutrients.
  • It can also happen when the skin is separated from the cartilage which is the semi-rigid tissue that provides the ear its shape.
  • It can be an infection in the ear lobe.

Symptoms

Cauliflower ear

Apply an ice pack immediately after the injury.

  • Swelling in which the affected area becomes reddened or bruised
  • Deformity on the curvature of the ear
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears or tinnitus
  • Headaches
  • Facial swelling
  • Severe bleeding
  • Loss of hearing

Treatment

  • Apply an ice pack immediately after the injury. Stop performing any activities and apply a cold compress or anything cold to lessen the inflammation and numb the pain. The ice helps lessen the flow of blood into the space between the skin and the cartilage of the upper part of the ear. Apply the ice pack on the affected ear for at least 15 minutes at a time every hour. Wrap ice cubes, crushed ice or a frozen gel pack in a piece of cloth before applying on the affected area to help prevent frostbite or irritations on skin. Another alternative is using frozen bags of vegetables or fruits that can be placed on the swelling of the ear.
  • Use a head wrap to compress the injured ear. Use a bandage around the head so that pressure can be felt against the ear. The pressure helps stop the internal bleeding and lessen the severity of the cauliflower deformity. A long strip of gauze or an elastic exercise band can be used to compress the ice pack against the ear and avoid wrapping it too tight to help prevent causing headache or dizziness. Avoid wrapping that disrupts with vision or lessens the hearing in the uninjured ear.
  • Take the prescribed anti-inflammatory to lessen the swelling and pain caused by the deformity such as ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen.
  • Before touching the cauliflower ear, sanitize the hand by washing with warm water and soap for at least 30 seconds and then dry properly. Wear latex surgical gloves to lessen the risk of spreading infection to the injured ear. Disinfect the injured ear by soaking a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and apply it on the swollen area. Pierce the hematoma using a 20-gauge 1 inch needle with a 3 ml syringe connected to it. Remove all the fluid and blood inside the swollen area of the ear. Apply an ice pack on the area for at least 10-15 minutes after to numb the pain.
  • Disinfect the punctured wound by soaking a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and apply it on the wound to minimize the risk for infections.

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