Preventing Cauliflower Ear

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Cauliflower ear is an all-too-familiar problem in the wrestling community. According to Robert Rodriguez, an athletic trainer with USA Wrestling, repetitive trauma to the ear causes "tissue to get torn away from the cartilage plate and bleed into the ear depression." The blood collects in the ear; and as it hardens, it creates a deformity that looks like a head of cauliflower.

To avoid permanent deformity and hearing loss, which often result from the injury, Rodriguez offers the following tips.

Wear headgear. The gear shields your ears from the hits and blows you take to the side of the head, reducing the trauma. "But sometimes," Rodriguez warns, "if not fitted properly, headgear will actually create cauliflower ear by sliding, rubbing and collapsing on the ear. So headgear does have to fit properly."

Use lubricant. If you're not crazy about headgear but don't want swollen ears, Rodriguez suggests rubbing a petroleum-based lubricant over them. He says, "Hits will just glide off your ear instead of smacking it."

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