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 BJJ Cauliflower Ear – What Causes It and Does It Go Away?

BJJ Cauliflower Ear Explained

What is a BJJ cauliflower ear?

You probably have seen it with one of your teammates or coaches already. Moreover, you probably saw famous grapplers and UFC fighters walking around with one. This is very common to professional fighters and martial artists. So what is it really? 

Looking for the best headgear for cauliflower ear prevention? – Check out our post here

Is it some kind of badge of honor as a martial artist?

Well, the BJJ cauliflower happens when there is blunt trauma to the cartilage of the ear caused by physical contact or friction.

So those who are just beginners in BJJ can experience getting one. 

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu cauliflower ear is from the exposure one has on the mats and with their training partner. It is from the friction from defending and attacking their teammates during open mats or their opponent during competition. As a result, just like any body part, the trauma will result in a hematoma. 

So what is hematoma?

It is when a pull of blood goes to the spot of injury causing swelling, redness or even pain. Eventually time will heal the injury and will result in scar tissue formation. This will appear like a deformity on the ear.

Therefore, as a martial artist, one should always be protecting yourself. 

Make sure that you always use and apply preventive measures to avoid cauliflower ear injuries during training and competitions. Moreover, you should be conscious enough to be able to detect it immediately so that you can seek medical attention to avoid further complications. 

If you are worried that there will be no cure or help possible, well you should not be! There is a medical solution that can help you get rid of the pain, and the scar tissue. 

How do you get cauliflower ears?

How does one get a cauliflower ear? As we all know, BJJ is a full contact sport where pressure and direct impact is inevitable. 

Hence, for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners, a cauliflower ear can be formed during take downs, when the head is used as a leverage or in a variety of other positions such as when defending one’s self in positions that can involve pressure to the ear like, rear naked chokes, triangles or passing positions etc

One thing also that can increase the chances of getting a cauliflower is genetics.

Some people who train martial arts on a daily basis end up having no cauliflower ever, while others can get it so easily. 

For BJJ practitioners, you can note that traditional class is always in Gi or Kimono. In this case, you can note that BJJ kimonos are very sharp and crisp, so during open mats, friction with the Gi can also cause it. 

Related: Beginners guide to rolling by Heavy BJJ.

BJJ Cauliflower Ear Treatment

Is there a treatment for BJJ cauliflower ear? In the modern times today, there are several things that can treat cauliflower ear. 

How? Well, the first thing is to detect that you acquired injury. Of course, you know yourself more than anyone else. So once you feel like you acquired injury to your ear, assess yourself and gauge the severity of the situation. 

Although you may disregard it if you notice that it is small, I still recommend that you go and seek your doctor for help. 

Read on below as I talk about several ways on how you can get rid of it, how to prevent it and the type of medical treatment that your physician may perform on you.


How do you get rid of cauliflower ear in BJJ?

So how does one get rid of a cauliflower ear in BJJ? This is actually something very trivial. 

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is known for having a lot of physical contact and pressure gaming. So what does that mean? During a rolling session, your training partner or opponent can put a lot of pressure or cause friction to your ear with the techniques and skills that they are applying which can result in a cauliflower ear. 

So how can we get rid of it? Wear your protective gear, and of course there will be signs and symptoms once the trauma has happened. Take note of the following: 

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain 
  • Bruising 
  • Bleeding 

What should you do next? Apply a cool pack already for 15 minutes while you make your way to see your doctor. 

Cauliflower Ear Drain

Once you have a cauliflower, then your next step is to have it drained by a medical health professional to avoid scar tissue formation. Note that there are two possible ways for your cauliflower to be drained. 

  1. Incision – your health practitioner will make a small incision to drain the blood and fluid from the trauma. From there, they will close the incision by suturing it and then applying a pressure dressing on the area. 
  1. Aspiration – if your cauliflower is not that severe then your medical health practitioner  may opt for aspiration. So what does this mean? This procedure will involve a syringe. The syringe will be the one draining the blood or and fluid from your cauliflower. 

Furthemore, once the draining of blood and fluid has been completed, your doctor may prescribe you antibiotics which you must take to avoid possible infection. 

Do not panic! The procedure is safe as long as you make sure that you are getting help from the medical health professional who is more than capable of helping you out. Please do not ever try to drain your cauliflower by yourself or dare to ask someone you know to do it for you. 

Check out this video on demonstrationg how a cauliflower is drained (This video maybe inappropriate, please do not proceed if you are not ready for any graphic content)

How to prevent cauliflower ear?

So how can you prevent cauliflower ear? Is this even possible? Of course it is!

They always say that prevention is more important than the cure. 

Therefore, one thing you have to keep in mind is that it is caused by trauma to the ear. So one must protect themselves every time. So what does it mean to protect yourself and your ear to avoid the cauliflower ear? 

  1. Wear a headgear – You can protect yourself by wearing a headgear. Some may feel uncomfortable wearing one during training or rolling. However, this can be very helpful. It can prevent any head related trauma and of course, it is an effective way to prevent cauliflower ear. Although there will be some who are not used to this and feel uncomfortable, note that there are still other things that you can try. 
  2. Try an ear guard – Since some people may feel uncomfortable wearing a headgear, they often opt for the ear guard instead during training. The ear guard is a small fitted guard placed between the cartilages of the ear to avoid blood or fluid pulling due to hematoma when injured on the ear. 
  3. Ice – once you feel like your ear was traumatized, limit swelling already by placing an ice pack for 15 minutes. 
  4. Bring yourself to the doctor go to the doctor, get it checked, have the hematoma drained if needed to avoid cauliflower formation and other complications 

Check out this video about ear guards and how to prevent cauliflower ear in BJJ.

What martial art gives you cauliflower ear?

Are there any other form of martial arts that can give you a cauliflower? Is it only for BJJ? Well, the answer here is no, there are several forms of martial arts that can cause it. 

Additionally, you have to remember that it is caused by trauma to the ear. So doesn’t all martial arts involve exchanges that can cause trauma to the ear? Here are other forms martial arts aside from Jiu Jitsu that can cause cauliflower ear: 

  • Sumo
  • Wrestling
  • Judo
  • Boxing
  • Tae Kwon Do 
  • Muay Thai 
  • Kickboxing

Does cauliflower ear go away?

So does cauliflower ear go away? The answer is a no.

The cauliflower does not go away on its own. It will heal but the scar tissue formation will be there. Moreover, if it can affect your activities of daily living, then one must seek medical treatment if needed. Here are somethings that a cauliflower ear can affect: 

  • Physical appearance for one’s professional career 
  • Self esteem
  • Possibility of having hearing loss
  • Prone to infection

My final thoughts? If you are exposed to the mats often and have a high chance of getting a cauliflower then you must protect yourself. Make sure you work on preventive measures to avoid getting one. 

Although it may not have a serious effect it is always better to make sure that you keep yourself safe and seek treatment as soon as you see its initial symptoms to avoid any possible complications like those mentioned above.

Related: What do you need for Jiu Jitsu by Heavy BJJ.

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