Why Do Wrestler’s Ears Look Weird?

why do wrestler's ears look weird?

If you have ever interacted with someone who wrestles- be it professionally or recreationally- you may have noticed that they have puffy, swollen ears. This is not a coincidence. A lot of wrestlers develop this condition as their time on the mat continues. So why does happen? Why do wrestler’s ears look weird? 

The reason that wrestler’s ears look weird is because of a condition known as cauliflower ear. This happens not only to wrestlers but also to other athletes especially combat athletes. It is due to trauma caused to one or both ears and is common in wrestling. 

Below we will discuss the how’s, what’s and why’s of the condition, and how to best avoid it if you or your fellow wrestler friend- would like to avoid this condition altogether. 

What Is Cauliflower Ear and Why Does It Make Wrestlers Ears Look Wierd?

Cauliflower ear, while seemingly harmless from its name, is actually a painful condition that develops after a lot of repetitive blunt force trauma to one or both ears. The name in and of itself describes the physical manifestation of the condition. When one has this issue, their ear puffs up and looks much like, well, a clump of cauliflower.

These lumps and clumps are actually hematomas. This is because skin pulls away from the cartilage of the ear, allowing blood to clot in between the cartilage and the skin. The issue is that the force makes it hard for nutrients and blood to flow, and so, they collect in these various clots and look like a head of cauliflower. This is as uncomfortable as it sounds, and again, it is a very unsightly ailment that any ear distress can create.

While it is a condition that many wrestlers have (you may alternately hear it called “wrestler’s ear), anyone can get it. Beyond the unpleasant aesthetic, some serious problems can result within the inner ear. It is much more consequential than just a funky-looking ear. 

When blood does not reach the cartilage in any part of your body, there is an inherent risk of the affected cartilage dying. As we have covered, the veins in the skin near the cartilage are what carry the blood to the cartilage, so when there is a separation between the two, the cartilage has no blood supply any longer. 

Cauliflower Ear Can Lead to Dead Cartilage

This is also considered cauliflower ear because usually, the ear will lose color, resembling the color of the plain vegetable as well. This is due to blood loss. When it gets to this point, the visual aspect is usually permanent.

It is only possible with surgery to attempt to heal dead cartilage, and it is a fairly abrasive surgery. The process of healing that aspect, should you be able to, can take up to as much as 6 months to heal. It is a serious issue that should not be taken lightly. 

Cauliflower Ear Can Lead to Hearing Loss

Cauliflower ear can lead to more problems for wrestlers than weird-looking ears. There is also the potential for hearing loss. Considering your ear becomes extremely swollen, eventually, the swelling can block your ear canal and make it a lot harder to hear. Using in-ear headphones would be absolutely impossible, and wearing over-ear headphones would likely be extremely uncomfortable.

Cauliflower Ear May Lead to Prejudice

This unsightly issue has also even created prejudice in hiring scenarios for some people. While that is extremely chauvinistic to judge someone’s capabilities on uncontrollable physical attributes, it still happens as we all know. Your health, professional, and personal life can all be touched by this issue. 

How to Help Prevent Cauliflower Ear In Wrestling 

Cauliflower ear can be an issue in any high contact sport, but most notably, it is an issue for wrestlers and other grapplers. It is always recommended that appropriate headgear is worn in any and all matches as well as during practice. The issue does not often occur when there is compliance with headgear requirements. 

In the case, that headgear is worn correctly, or at all, cauliflower ear is not inevitable after ear trauma. If you should be struck hard in the ear (remember, it does not have to be during sports) or have a lower ear infection that you worry could develop into cauliflower ear, there are preventative measures you can take to stop it from getting to that point.

Going to a doctor to treat ear trauma as soon as it occurs is the official advice here. While it may seem tedious, it is a lot less work than having to procure and treat or live with cauliflower ear perpetually. 

Oftentimes, wrestlers will avoid treatment to “show off” their condition. The more blows to your ear you have endured without issue or complaint, the stronger and better a wrestler you are. Right? Wrong. It is important to seek treatment as soon as possible. Even once it has begun, if you notice a hematoma forming, you can get it drained or taken care of to prevent the cartilage from fully dying or the hematoma from progressing. 

It may be seen as a badge of honor to develop a cauliflower ear. But a few minutes of public praise within your immediate social circle comes with a large price tag, whether you have to treat it (which can be costly) or decide to live with the condition. 

Best Headgear to Protect Your Ears in Wrestling

If you are a wrestler, or know one well, and would like to avoid the harmful side effects in different aspects of your life, headgear would be the way to go. The market is fairly saturated, but it is important to pick trustworthy options. Not wearing good wrestling headgear is the main reason why wrestler’s ears look weird. 

One really good option is the Cliff Keen Fusion headgear. This product features a wide array of color options, which is especially ideal if you or your wrestling companion competes for a team with specific colors. Whether you need to coordinate with your school colors or want to be the unforgettable wrestler in the bright headgear, you have options.

This headgear is an elusive combination of both comfort and protection and features the brand’s On the Fly™ strap system, making it easily adjustable for maximum safety and guarding. And, better yet, the ear cups are designed to be extra comfortable, which is perfect, because if you are going to protect your ears, added comfort will only encourage you to be compliant.

This same brand also offers the F5 Tornado Headgear. This variation also offers lots of color options suitable for anyone’s taste or team needs. This piece is much lighter than a lot of other headgear. It is also built with technology that allows you to hear better underneath all of that protection, ensuring you will not have to sacrifice any of your five senses during your match. 

This set of headgear involves NASA research in its meticulous design. It is much cooler to be wearing NASA-research-reinforced gear than to have to deal with all of the downsides of Cauliflower ear for years to come. And, fitting is a snap with the PowerTab™ 4-strap design. 

The best news? There is not a huge cost difference between either set of headgear. Whether you are in the market for starter or expert level headgear, you cannot go wrong with either Cliff Keen option. 

Final Thoughts on Cauliflower Ear In Wrestling 

Obviously, cauliflower ear is less than ideal. And while it may just seem like a cool wrestler badge to wear around during match season, it is really a potentially years-long or permanent condition that can hinder both your wrestling skills and your day-to-day life. It is not as inconsequential as some may be.

It may seem like the easier option is just avoiding the issue or going to the doctor to get it drained. Many people wonder why wrestler’s ears look weird and choose not to participate in wrestling. 

But, the true answer to Cauliflower ear prevention is easy and affordable: headgear. If you are going to get in the ring, or on the mat, or suspect any other sport you play (ahem, my rugby-playing friends), then you should invest in some Cliff Keen headgear to put your worries to rest and protect your ears. 

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