Someone asked me the other day what a cauliflower ear is. Many people get a cauliflower ear from the constant hitting and rubbing on the ear from doing judo, bjj, wrestling or sticking your head in a rugby scrum.
A Cauliflower ear is simply a bruise (or hematoma) that doesn’t heal. Your ear is made up of cartilage and when you get a hit or knock to the ear blood enters you ear and becomes stuck in between the cartilage. If the blood cannot drain and get out of the ear then it will set and go hard.
As the blood in the ear starts going hard the cartilage will start to shrivel and fold a little bit which is why the ear looks similar to a cauliflower. The pic below is before i got my ear drained by a syringe.
The doctor will put a local anesthetic on your ear and then stick a syringe in and suck out all the blood that’s stuck in there. If you do this straight away before the cartilage is damaged then your ear will remain the same. If you don’t drain is straight away the blood will go hard, once this happens you are unable to drain the blood out and the only way to fix it is to get an operation.
Many people believe that you get a cauliflower from 1 hit, but that is very rare. Most players get their caulis from training 6 days a week and the ears are constantly getting hit and bumped, hence why the more experienced and serious judo players get caulis while the recreational stay happy as larry.
You can wear some headgear called cauli stoppers to prevent a cauli ear (but who wants to wear headgear forever?)
http://www.grapplingstore.com/contents/en-uk/d273.html The headgear is great but in the end if you train all the time at a high intensity you will probably get a cauli somewhere on your ear.
Here is my ear after it was drained a few times but because i kept on training my ear kept refilling with blood and was getting semi hard. The Dr said that he couldn’t pierce my ear with the syringe so you can see where he cut it with a knife to remove the blood.
If you look at the above picture and then the picture below you can see how the ear has kind of shrivelled a little bit and has a weird shape about it. That’s what happens when the cartilage dies.
So my ears are a little strange and mostly i they don’t really get noticed by people very often which is ok but if i go into primary schools or do a few tours at the AIS kids notice straight away because if they don’t know you they study everything about you and pick up on it pretty quick.
Your best bet to avoid getting cauliflower ears is to wear some sort of headgear. I finsd that the brute headgear was the best for me.