I train in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts).

About 3 weeks back, I got my ear in a bind (headlock, probably, but it wasn't traumatic enough to make me think about it).

I went to a dermatologist, but they were not really sure what to do about this. My ear was drained, and I was given 10 days of antibiotics.

The ear is still sore and fills with fluid once a day.

I use a 22-gauge needle to pierce the skin once a day, and I draw out about 3cc of a blood/puss mixture like what they show in the video link (do not watch if you are squeamish): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9093SAO13I

Looking up the treatment online, it just says to drain the ear:


Is there nothing else I can do?

In the pic below, I'm in the green shirt. You can see the swelling in my ear. It isn't huge, but it's there.

mma cauliflower ear

2 Answers 2


In the US, the proper doctor to see is an Ear-Nose-Throat (ENT) specialist. I went to a regular primary care physician with the suspicion of cauliflower ear, and they sent me away because they did not recognize early stages of cauliflower ear, despite it being very painful. Several days later, I went to an ENT, who recognized it immediately and knew what to do.

The ENT's advice on cauliflower ear was:

  1. See ENT specialist immediately! Delay complicates treatment.
  2. Do not touch your ear or put pressure on your ear. This includes doing things like sleeping on the ear or wearing hats that cover the ear.

I do not remember exactly what the ENT did. It involved multiple visits and a bandage temporarily sewn into the ear. Under no circumstances would I attempt to self-treat.


This is a common injury in Rugby Union for the players who play hooker, prop and lock in the scrums - their ears are continually being squished and munged under huge pressure.

Some players choose to wear head gear - a full head cap made from synthetic material padded in the appropriate places, available in most sport shops. This won't totally fix the problem but will mitigate it. Others will use a combination of tape and padding specifically applied to the ears to reduce the impact.

There are many articles on this, but this one has some great photos of the problem and what some players do to deal with it.

I'd suggest you buy some rugby headgear and give it a go.

  • Just to be clear, headgear is more a precaution, not a treatment once you already have cauliflower ear.
    – mattm
    Commented Jul 15, 2018 at 14:54
  • For MMA people recovering from cauli use soft wrestling headgear. Don't wear rugby headgear, it's too cumbersome.
    – coinbird
    Commented Jul 18, 2018 at 18:41

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