Cauliflower Ears: Rugby’s Iconic Condition

cauliflower ears rugby

We’ve all been asked by our non-rugby watching/playing friends as to what exactly a cauliflower ear is, and how do you get one. We never knew the actual answer so decided to dive deeper into this issue.

What is that thing!?

So a cauliflower ear is an irreversible condition that develops when the external part of the ear is hit again and again. This ongoing impact then turns into a blood clot or a collection of other fluid. This then separates the cartilage in the affected area away from the part of the ear (perichondrium – for the scientists among us) that supplies it with nutrients. Eventually, this part of the ear dies and leaves the permanent swelling or deformity we all know as the cauliflower ear.

If a blood clot is starting to form, players are recommended to get this drained before a full cauliflower ear is developed. Once developed through the outer ear is prone to infections – where antibiotics may be given to clear outbreaks. Pressure can be applied to trouble areas with the aim of reconnecting the skin and the cartilage. If left untreated though serious damage can be caused – in a worst case scenario the ear canal can be disrupted.

In rugby, the poor old forwards are the main sufferers of cauliflower ears and the front row. This is due to constant impact during scrums. Touch, pause, cauliflower ear. Some players try to mitigate and lessen the impact by wearing a scrum cap, or tape. However, not all players feel comfortable wearing scrum caps as it restricts peripheral vision. Tape, on the other hand, is just pretty uncomfortable.

Brenda Phillips a rugby mum may have come to our rescue. Cue the Superman theme tune. She’s invented a silicon ear guard to protect the cartilage and reduce continuous impact. She’s aiming big, hoping the guard can help players in all relevant contact sports, such as wrestling. Brenda launched her Caulier Shields via her website caulearprotection. They’re not cheap, retailing at £80, however, if they do prevent the dreaded cauliflower ear – it’s money well spent. Can you really put a price on beauty?!

Although a scrum cap can be used to prevent a cauliflower ear developing we’re sure these will be part of the game from now until the end of time. Let us know if you have any innovative ways of preventing impact to your ears whilst playing.

cauliflower ears rugby Chris Jack

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