Lots of seasoned rugby players, as well as boxers, wrestlers and mixed martial artists, tend to end up with ‘cauliflower ears’. But what exactly is a cauliflower ear, can it be prevented, and how can it be treated?
Below is a brief guide to the condition.
What is cauliflower ear?
Cauliflower ear is the informal name that is given to an acquired malformation of the outer ear. It is so called because when the condition is prevalent, the outer part of the ear vaguely resembles a cauliflower.
Cauliflower ear can be caused by an infection or injury to the ear. The most common cause tends to be recurring traumatic injuries to the ear.
According to MedicineNet, the main symptoms of cauliflower ear include pain, ear deformity, severe bleeding, impaired hearing, bruising, tinnitus, headaches and swelling.
Why do rugby players (and other sportsmen/women) get cauliflower ear?
Because of the nature of their sports, rugby players, boxers, wrestlers, and mixed martial artists are more prone to cauliflower ear than most. Rugby players can often get a knock to the ear in a scrum or from landing on the ground after being tackled. Boxers and mixed martial artists can be struck in the ear. These blows may cause internal bleeding which in turn can lead to blood clots in the outer ear. When these clots block the passage of fresh blood (and subsequently, essential nutrients) to the afflicted part of the ear, tissue death may occur and the ear can sometimes fold in on itself. Scar tissue may also form, which can then contribute to the cauliflower-like appearance.
The wearing of protective headgear is the main preventative method available. In rugby, these are known as scrum caps and contain a thin layer of foam to cover the ears. They should be worn during matches and during practice sessions when carrying out drills such as those on a website such as https://www.sportplan.net/drills/Rugby/. Sites such as this are also useful if looking for a rugby drill video for coaching purposes.
Prompt treatment of any sustained ear injuries may help to prevent the clots from forming, but once scar tissue has formed, in most cases, the effects will be permanent. Some sufferers may choose to have cosmetic surgery as there is no standard treatment available.
Leave a Reply