What to expect when you get a cauliflower ear?

There are as many ways to deal with cauliflowers as there are people and of course everyone is an expert. This is by no means a ‘how to’ guide for treating cauliflower ears, but rather an account of what you can expect when you get one and how I dealt with mine.

A cauliflower ear (auricular hematoma) is a deformation of the ear caused by blood pooling in the outer ear, usually due to being struck or other injury.

I first noticed mine when I turned in bed to put the other side of my head on the pillow. I felt sharp pain, which turned out to be caused by a bulge of liquid on my ear. 

Initially ignoring it only resulted in it doubling in size after it got battered in training. The bulge still wasn’t massive, but was now painful at all times and annoyed the hell out of me in sparring. 

If left alone, such bulges will stiffen and set in that shape, which is usually far from desirable. Draining seemed like the only reasonable option. 

I grabbed a brand new, empty insulin syringe and picked a spot at the lowest point of the bulge to make sure I get all the liquid out. There are two ‘pops’ as you push the needle through the layers of the skin. Only after the second pop the needle gets deep enough to drain the liquid inside. If you stop at the first pop nothing will come out. 

Once I got the needle to the right depth I started to slowly pull on the end of the syringe to make sure that no air gets in through the back. If it does, the syringe stops working and you need to start over. This went smoothly and in just a few seconds all the blood and lymph was gone from the ear. 

I had to repeat this twice more over the next fortnight, because it swelled up in training again – the area is very sensitive even after being drained. Only piercing through the skin was mildly painful, but the after the second time I hardly felt it. 

To prevent further swelling I began training in an ear guard. Having a bad eyesight I was very sceptical of being both deaf and blind in class. Even though it requires getting used to, the ear guard proved extremely effective in facilitating the healing. Within a week all was healed and my ear was in almost back to the same shape. 

For a more professional article about cauliflowers click here. But I do hope you’ll never actually need this information!

Note: in the UK you’ll have to bulk buy syringes online. Asking for one at the pharmacy gets you a terrified stare, because the pharmacists just assume you’re a junkie. 

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