I've been practicing BJJ for quite some time now. Recently, in sparring sessions, I think I've hurt one of my ears. It pains a lot and now that ear has turned red. I've read in many sites that practicing BJJ can cause cauliflower ears. So, can someone help me with information to avoid cauliflower ears while practicing my regular classes.


2 Answers 2


A common precaution is to wear wrestling headgear, which is designed to protect the ears, while practicing. Cauliflower ear is caused by impacts or rubbing on the ear. Headgear will reduce both of these.

  • Thank you. Yes, I read that as well. But, I was thinking, if we have some other simple solutions like using a bandana over the ears? will it help?
    – The Apache
    Commented Feb 4, 2019 at 14:26
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    @TheApache Will a bandana reduce impacts or rubbing on the ear? I would expect no. How is a preexisting piece of sports equipment not a simple solution?
    – mattm
    Commented Feb 4, 2019 at 15:27
  • @TheApache Cauliflower ear is generally seen as an elite-level preventable ailment. At what level of competitiveness are you? I'm not sure this is something a newbie needs to be concerned about.
    – Matadeleo
    Commented Feb 4, 2019 at 16:59
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    @Matadeleo I knew guys in high school that had cauliflower ear from wrestling by their sophomore year. So, this is not an elite-level issue. Wrestling headgear was the preventative measure. Commented Feb 4, 2019 at 19:35
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    Rugby players also get cauliflower ear (normally second row forwards, who get it scrummaging) and many of them wear scrum caps or wrap a bandage around their ears. I don't know of any studies that support it, but scrum caps are generally considered much more effective than a bandage, and I imagine the same would be true for other sports.
    – walrus
    Commented Feb 4, 2019 at 19:49

Ramsey Dewey had a video on this very topic that I thought was pretty good.


Essentially he thought that genetics played a large role in getting cauliflower ears. Regardless - you need to protect your ears.

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    The question asks how to protect your ears - this answer says you should protect your ears, but completely misses the 'how'. Most of us are not in a position to mess with our genetics unfortunately.
    – Collett89
    Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 10:27
  • Good point. :) I thought it was an interesting take on the question. Some people's ears swell up seemingly immediately other don't. It's relevant as it shows why some people do not get cauliflower ears doing the same thing as others. Many people follow what other do at the gym. "That person wears a bandana and his ears are fine."
    – Mayo
    Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 13:52
  • This video meanders. I would characterize his position first as being that it's not known why some people get cauliflower ear and some do not, rather than genetics has a large role. The video has an anecdote about a wrestler who does not get cauliflower ear until starting BJJ.
    – mattm
    Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 18:46
  • I have seen some people get cauliflower ears doing the same gym work as others who don't. I don't think Ramsey argues that BJJ, as opposed to strikes, are a problem but that it's not a one size fits all problem.
    – Mayo
    Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 19:11

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