Cauliflower ear is also known as hematoma auris. It is a deformity of the outer ear caused by repetitive friction or impact. It is common in contact sports that do not use head protection.
Cauliflower ear is a result of repeated injury and so may be symptom free. The initial injuries are usually contusions, symptoms of which include pain, swelling, bruising and a deformed appearance of the outer ear. In severe cases, hearing may be affected, with a loss of hearing and a ringing in the ears known as tinnitus.
Initial treatment of contusions should include ice or other forms of cold therapy. Ice or a cold pack can be applied for 5 to 10 minutes in a wet tea towel to avoid skin burns. The ear is sensitive with blood close to the surface so do not apply cold for long periods of time.
Anti-inflammatories may be prescribed by a doctor. Blood may be drained through an incision in the skin of the ear and a compressive dressing applied. Anti-biotics may be administered if necessary. If it causes hearing problems, the individual should be referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist.