How to Treat Cauliflower Ear

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Cauliflower ear refers to outer ear trauma that must be treated immediately. Ensure the protection of your outer ear with help from a practicing doctor in this free video.

Part of the Video Series: Ears 101
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Video Transcript

Hi. I'm Dr. David Hill, and today we're going to talk about how to treat cauliflower ear. Now I have to say, when I hear cauliflower the first thing I think is hollandaise sauce, but that will not do your ear any good whatsoever. Cauliflower ear really describes trauma to outer ear. We call this part of the ear the pinna, and normally the pinna is composed of the relatively thin layer of skin tightly adhered to a framework of cartilage. Now, as long as the skin is tightly adhered to the cartilage, the ear retains its normal shape, but after an injury to the soft tissue of the ear, sometimes fluid or blood can collect, and that blood can push the skin away from the cartilage. Now that seems like a temporary injury, but it can actually be dangerous to the structure of the ear. If the cartilage has been damaged, or the blood flow to the cartilage is compromised, it may not heal well at all. There may be some permanent deformity to the ear. So if you have a cauliflower ear, or you notice some really significant swelling of the ear after a traumatic event, you can certainly apply ice immediately - not too much ice, you don't want to get it too cold, but just a cold pack or cool water. You can take some ibuprofen, but go ahead and seek care from an ear, nose and throat specialist, or your local emergency room, and have them get a look at that, because there are some therapies that can preserve the cartilage and preserve the structure of the ear if they're started in time. But you don't want to just leave that unless it's really minor, because you may be looking at a scenario of permanent damage. Talking about what to do for cauliflower ear, I'm Dr. David Hill.

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