Every time I log on, there seems to be a new "How do I treat my cauliflower?" or "How do I prevent cauliflower?" thread. So, because I was so sick of seeing this topic done so repetitively, I decided to make this thread. I know I'm only a white belt, but this is a topic I am quite familiar with. So without further ado I give you the...
Definitive Cauliflower Ear Thread
*I take no responsibility for any harm that comes to you or your ear if you choose to drain it at home
What it is
Cauliflower ear is term commonly used to describe the appearance of an ear that has had a perichondrial hematoma. A perichondrial hematoma occurs when the ear is struck, hit, or excessively and abrasively rubbed. When hit, the skin on the ear tears away from the underlying cartilage. The perichondium, which supplies nutrients to the cartilage, is also ripped off of the cartilage. If left untreated, the cartilage will be starved of nutrients and die. The blood and puss that filled the gap when the skin was torn off of the cartilage will harden and leave a cauliflower like appearance.
How it happens
Cauliflower ear occurs when the ear receives a hard strike, or is grinded against for extended periods of time. This is why it is so common among combat athletes and rugby players. In rugby, when tackles occur, the ear can be hit against the athlete being tackled, resulting in cauliflower. In jiu jitsu and wrestling, the ear can not only be struck hard (for instance: during a takedown, your ear hits his hip bone), but also abrasively rubbed (escaping from chokes, headlocks etcÖ). Boxers are also prone to cauliflower ear as the get hit in the head repeatedly. Some people are more susceptible to it than others. I am not, and it takes a big hit to give me any kind of cauliflower.
Multiple treatments are available for cauliflower ear. It is possible to have cauliflower ear surgically fixed once it has hardened. This operation is typically quite expensive and is performed by a plastic surgeon or ENT. If you donít want to do that, then you must treat cauliflower ear as soon as possible. If you leave it for a while(more than about 5-7 days), it will harden and the only way to fix it is the above described treatment.
The most common treatment is to drain the fluid using a syringe (I will go into detail later). Sometimes you hear horror stories about doctors who have never treated cauliflower ear and are not sure how to go about doing it. There are many accepted ways for doctors to treat cauliflower ear. One way to treat it is to have the ENT lance the front of the ear and scrape/suck all the gunk out. After all of the debris is out of the ear, the ENT should bolster the ear. To do this, he/she will put a piece of gauze or a cotton roll on each side of your ear, front and back. The doctor will the sew through the gauze. This keeps the perichondrium attached to the cartilage in the ear, allowing the cartilage to continue living.
The easiest way to treat cauliflower ear is to simply drain it with a syringe. Below is a step by step guide for draining cauliflower ear. Once again, I take no responsibility for any damage or harm you do to yourself or your ear by following the directions below
. You do so at your own risk. I highly recommend getting cauliflower ear treated by a doctor so that the risk of infection is lower. The ear doesnít have a lot of blood flow and is at a higher risk of infection. Only your doctor can prescribe antibiotics, and he/she probably wouldnít be too pleased to prescribe antibiotics to you because you got an infection from a home surgery.
1. Take a shower. Be sure to wash your hair, ear, and the area surrounding your ear very well. It may be a little painful to touch the ear, but at least run some water over it for a while. You want these areas to be particularly clean so that you lower the risk of infection.
2. You now need to clean the ear. I know you just took a shower and made them nice and squeaky clean, but you can never be too careful. I have used Hibiclens in the past with good results. It is a surgical grade antiseptic skin cleanser. CAUTION
: Do not get Hibiclens in your ear. It says not to on the bottle. Iíve never had it happen to me, but donít take the risk. Pour a little Hibiclens on a cotton swab and wipe the ear with it. Let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe it off using water. You can also use alcohol prep pads. Just wipe the ear with the alcohol swab or prep pad and let it sit for about 20-30 seconds.
3. Now you need to stick the syringe in the ear. Insert the syringe at an angle into the area that has cauliflowered up. Insert the needle in the front of the ear, not the back. Pull back the plunger of the syringe a little bit. You donít want to pull back too much at first. This should start a trickle of blood flow into the syringe. If the flow of blood and puss stops, give the plunger another little pull. Keep repeating this process until the ear has completely drained. If you fill up a syringe, DO NOT SQUIRT THE BLOOD/PUSS OUT AND REUSE THE SAME SYRINGE.
Make sure you have another unused, sterile syringe on hand. Simply cap and set aside the filled syringe insert and use the new one in the same manner as the first. When you are done, and the ear looks normal, cap the syringes. You should dispose of them properly in a sharps container. Wipe the ear down with another alcohol swap after it is drained.
4. Sometimes (if youíre lucky) the ear will simply look normal after draining and will not refill. It is best to not take the chance of it refilling (and you having to repeat the above process again). To do this, you will want to make a compression bandage. To do this, take a bunch of gauze, or a cotton roll, and fill the outer crevices of the ear with it. Then use tape (paper tape or cloth medical tape works best) and tape the ear. Hold it down (pinch your ear, thumb in back, forefinger on front) for about 5-10 minutes. This will keep the perichondrium attached to the cartilage and is vital if you want your ear to be normal again.
5. Change the compression bandage often and if the ear refills with blood and puss, just repeat the process. Sometimes it will refill multiple times, but usually with less and less blood each time. Eventually, it should look pretty normal.
Many people choose to not drain their ears because they believe that it is a ďbadge of honorĒ, others are simply training for a fight and canít take a couple days off to baby it. Some people have jobs where they are in the public eye a lot and having a nice fat cauliflower ear would not be ďrespectable or presentableĒThere is a saying: An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. Seriously, if you donít want cauliflower then wear headgear. Itís cheap and easy. The problem is that most people find it uncomfortable. The problem is that most jiu jitsu guys just go to Big 5 or Sport Chalet or whatever and buy whatever headgear they have there. Iíve been wrestling for a long time and I can tell you, sports stores sell crappy headgear. The most comfortable headgear has to be bought online. I highly recommend www.suplay.com
. In my opinion, the most comfortable headgear is made by Cliff Keen. Try either the Tornado, Twister, or Signature model. All have nice padding and are plenty comfortable. Adidas also just came out with a very comfortable headgear. If you donít want cauliflower ears, wear your headgear. If you donít want to wear headgear, but also donít want cauliflower ears, then you can get it drained, but chances are you will end up with at least a little cauliflower.
If you have any other questions about cauliflower ear just post them in this thread and I will, to the best of my ability, answer them.
Set up, shoot, finish,