Thumbnail image of: Cauliflower Ear: Illustration

Cauliflower Ear: Teen Version

What is cauliflower ear?

Cauliflower ear is a lumpy or puffy outer ear that does not go away.

What is the cause?

Cauliflower ear is caused by injury. It may be caused by repeatedly being hit in the ear in sports such as boxing and rugby. It may also be caused by ongoing rubbing or pressure on the ear in sports such as wrestling.

The injuries can cause blood to collect between the skin and cartilage in the ear. Cartilage is the tough but flexible tissue that gives your ear its shape. The skin can pull away from the cartilage. If your ear is injured many times, scar tissue forms and can change the way your ear looks. This scar tissue has been said to look like a cauliflower.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may include pain and swelling.

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history and examine you.

How is it treated?

If blood has collected between the skin and cartilage in your ear, it needs to be drained by your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Your provider will put a tight dressing on your ear to help decrease swelling and keep fluid from building up again. Your healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection.

If scar tissue has already formed, you will need plastic surgery on the ear to make it look normal.

How can I help prevent cauliflower ear?

Use protective head gear in sports such as wrestling or boxing. If your ear is injured, get prompt treatment to prevent cauliflower ear.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-09-02
Last reviewed: 2014-12-08
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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