Damage to the visible part of the ear, sometimes leading to deformity
- Playing contact sports is a risk factor
- Age, gender, and genetics are not significant factors
If the visible part of the outer ear is injured, blood may collect between the skin of the ear and its underlying cartilage, leading to pain and swelling. The collected blood (haematoma) may cut off the supply of blood to the cartilage, which may break down and be gradually replaced by scar tissue. Severe or repeated injury may result in a “cauliflower ear”, a deformity that sometimes occurs in boxers and other athletes.
You can reduce the discomfort of an injured ear by applying an ice pack. If the ear is severely swollen, you should consult your doctor. He or she may drain a haematoma under a local anaesthetic or apply a pressure bandage to reduce swelling. Plastic surgery may be necessary to correct a deformity.
When playing contact sports, make sure you wear headgear to protect your ears (see Exercising safely).
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.
The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.