“I will box your ears” is a frequently used admonishment. But how many of us know that if we are boxed in our ears, we can develop “cauliflower ears“?
Seen frequently in boxers and wrestlers, cauliflower ear got its name because the shape of the outer ear changes due to a severe injury to the outer ear. When the ear receives a blow , a blood clot develops under the skin. The connection of the skin to the cartilage is also disrupted. (Cartilage is the flexible tissue of which the outer ear is made of). Due to the blood clot, and sometimes even due to infection, the cartilage gets no blood. As a result, the cartilage is deprived of oxygen and important nutrients.
When this condition continues, eventually the cells of the cartilage die. Slowly the cartilage contracts and shrivels up, leaving a deformed outer ear, commonly called cauliflower ear. Once the cartilage dies, it cannot be reconstructed and the person is left with a permanent damage.
If the person approaches the doctor soon after the injury has occurred, the doctor can remove the blood clot, treat any infection, and re-establish the skin connection to the underlying cartilage. But any delay in treatment leads to the cauliflower ear.