Cauliflower ear is a sad price that many martial artists and grapplers pay for their discipline and hard work. Auricular hematoma is an injury to the ear that results from trauma to the outer ear.
The acute phase is often from a blunt trauma or repetitive friction which causes a hematoma to form around the outer ear. This means the injured area swells with blood. If the hematoma is left untreated the outer skin will separate from the cartilage. The ear cartilage relies on the outer skin for blood flow and this separation can cause the cartilage to die.
The chronic phase is when the cartilage is dead and fibrotic tissue forms to create a lumpy shriveled tissue around the ear. This deformity is generally permanent.
Wrestling – be cautious when going ear to ear in a tie up.
Jiu Jitsu – be careful how you escape your head from chokes, especially when a gi is involved.
Boxing – Don’t turn away from a punch/hook which may make initial contact with your ear.
Treatment: Initially use ice and compression to minimize the swelling. While novice grapplers may find these ears to be cool and make them look tough you might as well get it addressed while you can. As cool as it may seem having funny looking ears for the rest of your life isn’t fun. See a medical professional who can drain the ear prior to the cartilage dying. Make sure to keep a pressure bandage on and take time before returning to training or else you may have the hematoma return.