If you’ve ever observed a wrestling match, you may have noticed that the wrestlers’ ears appear slightly deformed. The ears may look puffy, lumpy, or just generally misshapen.
It’s so common that it can become a surprise to see a wrestler with completely normal-looking ears, but why is it so common, and what causes this ear deformity?
Why Do Wrestlers Have Weird Ears?
Wrestlers have weird ears, or cauliflower ears, because of the physical trauma that causes pockets of blood to form, creating a lumpy appearance. They may be treated by draining the pockets and icing the ears.
The rest of this article will provide an in-depth look at what causes cauliflower ear, how to treat it, and how to avoid getting cauliflower ear in the first place.
What Causes Cauliflower Ear?
The main causes of cauliflower ear are blunt force trauma and any sort of friction against the ears. In wrestling, you’re constantly being slammed and pinned against the mat as well as put in headlocks. All of these can cause cauliflower ear making it one of the most common injuries in the sport.
When blunt force trauma or friction is applied to the ear, separation of tissues occurs and creates spaces between the layers of skin and cartilage. These pockets then fill with blood that causes a puffy and lumpy appearance.
Think about if you’ve ever hit your head and ended up with a lump. Cauliflower ears are caused by the same process, but just in a different spot.
Once the blood has entered these pockets, it just sits there and causes redness and swelling, and it’s not going away easily. The only way to remove the blood is by lancing the ear and draining the blood out.
Eventually, the blood will dry and harden, causing the disfigurement to become permanent.
Side Effects of Cauliflower Ear
It is important to remember that cauliflower ear causes more than an unpleasant appearance. There are some major side effects of cauliflower ear, including:
- Hearing loss
- Difficulty using headphones
- Ringing ears
If not treated, severe cauliflower ear can also cause the outer edge of your ear to die. If the separation between skin and cartilage is severe enough, then the outer edges can lose their blood supply.
This will initially cause the hardening of the cartilage and can eventually lead to it completely falling off. The outer ear dying can also lead to a severe infection that can become systemic if left untreated.
Is There A Cure For Cauliflower Ear?
While there is not a cure for cauliflower ear, some options may allow you to return your ear to a semi-normal state, including icing the ear and draining the pocket of fluid. If the trauma is repeated frequently, then chances are your ears are going to be permanently disfigured.
When you notice that you may be getting cauliflower ear after being injured, the first thing to do is apply ice to the area.
Ice reduces the swelling and minimizes the damage by constricting the capillaries in the skin of the ear. This helps reduce the amount of excess blood that will seep into the pocket between the layers of skin and cartilage.
It is not recommended that you take anti-inflammatory medications as most of them have some blood-thinning properties, which could make the cauliflower ear more severe.
Once the initial swelling process is complete, typically after a few days, then you may want to get your ear drained. If the swelling is extreme, then chances are it will not go back to normal on its own and may cause severe damage to the cartilage.
Your ear’s cartilage receives oxygen from the blood supply in your ear’s skin. If the skin is separated from the cartilage for too long, it could prevent the cartilage from healing and cause it to harden and be permanently deformed.
If you decide to get it drained, the best thing to do is go to a doctor and have them do it for you.
Many wrestlers or people who get cauliflower ear often choose to do it themselves, but we recommend leaving the job to a professional if you’re nervous about it.
The doctor will insert a hollow needle into your ear and draw most of the blood out with a syringe. This minimizes any additional trauma as you do not want to put more pressure on your still healing blood vessels.
Ways To Avoid Cauliflower Ear
The single most effective way to prevent cauliflower ear is by wearing appropriate headgear at all times. Although many wrestling competitions now require headgear, competition is not where the majority of injuries are going to occur.
Most injuries occur in practice.
The majority of the time that an athlete spends on the mat is going to be during practice. That is why, if you’re going to try and prevent cauliflower ear, practice is the most critical time to do it.
You can check out some of the best wrestling headgear here on Amazon. They have headgear with varying levels of protection and for all different ages as well.
If the headgear is used appropriately, it is extremely effective in preventing cauliflower ear. However, if it is used incorrectly, it may actually increase the risk of developing this condition.
If the headgear is not tight enough or is too tight, it may move around, which can cause additional friction and put more pressure on the ears, resulting in a cauliflower ear.
Cauliflower ear is typically not a gradual process. It usually comes from one strong blow to the ear, which causes the separation of tissues.
Although older wrestlers typically have worse ears, they have suffered through many incidents of cauliflower ear, which causes additional scar tissue to build up over time.
This is why it is essential to ensure that you always protect your ears every time you step on the mat because it only takes one blow.
Cauliflower ear is one of the most common injuries associated with wrestling that is caused by blunt force or friction trauma that separates the layers of skin and cartilage in the ear.
This creates pockets that fill with blood which creates the puffy appearance that is characteristic of this condition.
Treatment is possible with icing and draining any pockets of blood however, the best treatment is prevention.
Wearing appropriate headgear that is properly fitted will be the best thing you can do to prevent permanent disfigurement of your ears.
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