updated: Mar. 30, 2022
Have you ever stopped to watch a boxing or MMA fight on TV? If so, you may have noticed that some of the fighter’s ears looked more than a little misshapen. This deformity of the ear is often referred to as “cauliflower ear," and this problem occurs when an auricular hematoma is not properly treated or is left untreated. If you have questions about auricular hematomas, you’ve come to the right place. An ENT doctor is an ideal specialist to drain and treat this injury.
Trauma to the ear, whether through an injury or blow to the head, can cause blood to collect within the cartilage of the outer ear, which also causes the cartilage and tissue to separate. As a result, the outer ear and its cartilage no longer receive blood flow, which causes the tissue to die off.
We often see auricular hematomas in individuals who participate in contact sports such as boxing, martial arts, wrestling, and rugby. Of course, playing sports isn’t the only cause of an auricular hematoma. ENT doctors also see this issue after a bad fall, a severe car accident, or even after getting an ear pierced.
If you’ve just experienced a blow to the ear or side of the face and you are experiencing bruising, pain, swelling, or a deformity of the earlobe, this is a sign of an auricular hematoma. It’s important to seek immediate treatment from an ENT specialist who can drain the excess blood and prevent infection, tissue death, and cauliflower ear.
To prevent further complications from an auricular hematoma, your ENT doctor will need to drain the area. Local anesthesia will be administered to the area to numb it before a small incision is made to drain the blood. Then the area is rinsed with saline and a bandage is placed over the area. Antibiotic ointment may also be prescribed by your doctor to prevent infection.
If you play contact sports such as wrestling or boxing, the most important thing you can do is wear the proper protection and headgear to prevent an injury or traumatic blow to the head from causing an auricular hematoma.
If you experience blunt-force trauma to the ear it’s important that you schedule an immediate evaluation with an ENT specialist to make sure the problem is properly treated to prevent future complications such as “cauliflower ear."