Cauliflower Ear: Why Do Wrestlers Get Them?

As someone who likes to watch sports, it is normal for me to see injuries. And as a healthcare professional, I have no choice but to shed light on the topic, especially cauliflower ear. The cauliflower ear is a common occurrence in grappling martial arts such as BJJ and Wrestling. While some wrestlers, particularly in the Asian region, see it as a trophy, it can be something concerning, especially everyone can prevent it with protective equipment.

A wrestler’s cauliflower ear happens when the ears are constantly being stressed by friction. The friction causes abrasion to the pinna of the ear, causing it to swell. Because of the swelling, the ear starts to deform, which causes cauliflower ear.

In this blog post, We are going to talk about some studies and notable sources related to the topic that talk about why do wrestlers get cauliflower ear, what percentage of wrestlers get cauliflower ear, and we are going to answer if it can go away.

Wrestler with Ear Guard to Protect Against Cauliflower Ear

Why do wrestlers get cauliflower ear?

Wrestling is one of the most exciting sports. Although wrestlers experience injuries, cauliflower ear is the most common among them.

Cauliflower ear is a common observation that wrestlers often have such ears.

Usually, the main reason behind it is an abrasion or friction on the ear.

This causes fluids to begin gathering in the pinna of the ear, and it gets swell. Perichondria hematoma is another term used for this deformity of an ear. 

Most of the time, the patient having cauliflower ear may encounter various irritations.

The evident symptoms include hearing loss, headache, and blurred vision.

Several kinds of research have been conducted that concluding the prime cause of this deformity is direct trauma.

As we know, our ear is composed of cartilage instead of bone. Hence, this fragile part gets swollen due to a hit or strike. 

Wrestling is known to be a national game in Iran.

Whereas, in other countries, it is a good source of amusement.

However, many people like to watch it live and enjoy it to the fullest.

Some of the wrestling matches are real.

However, others are pre-planned. These planned performances are conducted just for the sake of entertainment.

If you’re interested in knowing some Wrestling history and how it became fake, feel free to visit another blog post, I’ve made talking about the topic. Here is the link: How did professional wrestling become fake?

In scripted wrestling, the wrestlers do not hit each other harder.

In actual wrestling or boxing, the players hit forcefully. As a result, many of them get cauliflower ear.

When a wrestler gets hit on the ear, internal bleeding begins, and blood fills the pool in one’s ear.

According to Healthline, when this happens, it is essential to direct icing on the injury is considered to be an instant cure to the pain. [1]

Apart from that, approaching the ear specialist would help.

What percentage of wrestlers get cauliflower ear?

39% of wrestlers get cauliflower ears according to research published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. However, this number can decrease if wrestlers take this seriously by wearing protective gear such as an ear guard or headgear, which prevents any friction that can cause cauliflower ears.

According to different studies, Tehran and Iran are the countries where wrestling is extremely famous. People from other regions gather and watch the match.

A specific study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine found that 39 percent of hundred wrestlers have cauliflower ears. [2]

Though there are always health-related plans for the players but some injuries cannot be prevented.

Sometimes, the wrestlers avoid wearing ear guards.

That is why their ear gets struck and turns into a cauliflower ear.

Therefore, employing ear guards can save wrestlers’ ears.

Also, employing the usage of ear protection can prevent serious injuries and infections. 

Every region and country has some fundamental beliefs.

The cultural norms vary from country to country.

There are several regions where wrestling is perceived as the symbol of might and utmost courage.

Iran and Tehran, for example, are popular countries where wrestlers have a bit different thoughts linked to cauliflower.

Moreover, they are accustomed to not wearing any ear guard because, in their view, most powerful wrestlers possess such inflated ears.

More often, they deny visiting a doctor for the remedy and keep it with them for life. Their stubbornness never let them treat their ears properly.  

In research reported in the Asian Journal of Sports Medicine, It has been keenly observed that the cauliflower ears may cause rapid hearing loss in many cases.[3]

In this world, many wrestlers who have cauliflower ears are facing the issue of hearing loss.

Apart from that, constant headache is another clear symptom of a deformed ear.

The wrestlers must have adhered to the safety rules to avoid any serious injury or wound. 

Do wrestler’s cauliflower ear go away?

The wrestler’s cauliflower ear goes away if treated correctly. This means it is important to have it checked by a qualified health professional. Furthermore, frequent check-ups also help since the professional can check any progress in the healing process.

If we talk about the permanent remedy of cauliflower ear, it is quite possible to cure it.

There are multiple ways of fixing an injured ear. Firstly, a surgery process, Otoplasty, can be preferred.

According to Healthline, Otoplasty is a kind of cosmetic surgery that will treat the cauliflower ear and reduce the size of the swollen ear.

Moreover, the moment the ear starts to inflate, one must immediately visit the doctor as the doctor will remove the extra blood pooled in the pinna.

Otoplasty is usually an outpatient technique. It takes between 1 to 3 hours, contingent upon the particulars and intricacy of the method.

As far as the grown-ups are concerned, they might get neighborhood sedation during the method. 

During Otoplasty, a cut is made on the rear of the ear.

They are controlling the ear tissue, which can incorporate evaluation of ligament or skin, collapsing and molding of the ligament with long-lasting join, or uniting the ligament to the ear. 

Most importantly, the care after the Otoplasty is the prime duty of the caretakers.

Following the method, one must have dressing put over the ears. Make sure to keep the bandage perfect and dry.

It is advised that the patient must abstain from contacting or scratching at the ears and pick a dozing position where one is not laying on one’s ears.

Secondly, after surgery, the person must wear clothing that does not need to pull over the head as button-up shirts.

However, after the surgery, redness of the skin and itching may irritate the patient.

But doctors suggest not scratching that part to stay safe from any skin infection. 

The treatment of cauliflower ear must starts within 48 hours because the cartilage can be molded urgently.

If the treatment gets delayed, it will be challenging for the doctor to treat the deformed cartilage.

Hence, one must not procrastinate the treatment of the disfigured ear. 

To sum up, the administration and treatment of cauliflower ear can take many structures relying upon when the patient presents and the size and extent of the deformation.

It is compulsory to note from the beginning that the cauliflower ear is conceivably avoidable through the suitable covering and insurance of the ear during physical games.

The simplest way to avoid getting cauliflower ear is to wear ear guards. In any sport or martial art, safety gears are essential.

Ear guards protect the ear by providing ways for it to avoid friction. The friction cause cauliflower ear since it is a delicate part of our body.

As indicated by investigations of grapplers, the utilization of defensive headgear can diminish the unfortunate happenings.

In addition, before the cartilage dies completely, the patient should be taken to the hospital for appropriate treatment.

Frequent follow-up is essential to get the permanent cure of a cauliflower ear. 

Having Cauliflower ears is not cool, people. Get it treated while it’s still in the early stages.


  1. Health Line | Cauliflower Ears
  2. Kordi, Ramin & Mansournia, Mohammad Ali & Nourian, Ruhollah & Wallace, W Angus. (2007). Cauliflower Ear and Skin Infections among Wrestlers in Tehran. Journal of sports science & medicine. 6. 39-44.
  3. Noormohammadpour, Pardis et al. “Association Between Hearing Loss And Cauliflower Ear in Wrestlers, a Case Control Study Employing Hearing Tests.” Asian journal of sports medicine vol. 6,2 (2015): e25786. doi:10.5812/asjsm.6(2)2015.25786

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