Cauliflower ear fighting

Cauliflower ear is a type of ear infection in which the ear canal is inflamed and filled with pus.

This swelling causes pressure to build up in the ear.

Treatment for cauliflower ear

A doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat a cauliflower ear. This is the only way to clear the infection and get rid of the swelling in the ear.

Treatments may include:

  • Oral antibiotics
  • Prescription ear drops
  • Prescription eye drops
  • Prescription steroid ear drops
  • Prescription pain medication

If you have a cauliflower ear, your doctor may also prescribe a course of oral steroids to reduce the swelling in your ear canal.

Other treatments for cauliflower ear include:

  • Earwax removal
  • Ear irrigation

If you have a severe infection, your doctor may prescribe an oral antibiotic. They may also prescribe an ear tube to drain the fluid from your ear.

Cauliflower ear vs. cholesteatoma

Cauliflower ear has the same causes as cholesteatoma. That is, they both affect the eardrum and the middle ear.

Both conditions are caused by damage to the bones of the middle ear. This damage can be caused by:

  • A foreign object
  • A head injury
  • A perforated eardrum
  • A perforated tympanic membrane

Another difference between these conditions is how they present.

In cholesteatoma, the pus is typically yellow or green. It can also have a foul odor.

In cauliflower ear, the pus is generally clear or white. It may also have a foul smell.

Both conditions can cause ear pain that gets worse with pressure. Some symptoms of cholesteatoma include:

  • Ear pain that gets worse with pressure
  • Ear pain that persists for more than 10 days
  • A popping or tearing sensation in the ear
  • Persistent ear drainage
  • Infection in the middle ear
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Dry mouth
  • Vision changes

Symptoms of cauliflower ear

In some cases, cauliflower ear may be mistaken for a cholesteatoma.

Treating cauliflower ear

Doctors typically treat cauliflower ear with antibiotics. If you have a severe infection, your doctor may prescribe a course of steroids.

Ear tubes

If your symptoms worsen, your doctor may recommend that you have an ear tube inserted into your ear. This device is used to drain the fluid in your ear.

An ear tube allows your ear to drain better. It may also allow your symptoms to clear up sooner.


If the cauliflower ear is affecting your ability to hear, your doctor may recommend surgery.

The procedure typically involves:

  • Opening the eardrum
  • Removing the infected tissue
  • Closing the eardrum


You may need to stay in the hospital for 1 to 3 days after surgery.

You may be able to return to work within a few days of your procedure.

You may experience some pain and discomfort for several weeks following the procedure.

Outcome of cauliflower ear

A cauliflower ear typically clears up within a few weeks. This is partly because the eardrum may heal on its own. It may also clear up because of the eardrum’s ability to clean itself.

If the ear is inflamed, draining, and filled with pus, you may experience:

  • Pain
  • Discomfort
  • Tingling
  • Hearing loss
  • Ear fullness

A cauliflower ear is a common ear infection. It can be a serious condition if left untreated. It can also be a long-term problem.

Your doctor will be able to tell if you need treatment for a cauliflower ear. They can also help you learn how to prevent this condition from recurring.

If you are experiencing pain or discomfort from a cauliflower ear, you should seek immediate medical attention.

The first step toward treatment is to eliminate the cause. This is important because cauliflower ear usually clears up within a few weeks.

If your symptoms don’t improve or if they worsen, make an appointment with your doctor.

Prevention of cauliflower ear

There are several things you can do to prevent a cauliflower ear.

Keep these tips in mind when you do the following:

  • Avoid wearing tight hats or headbands.
  • Avoid wearing earrings that can rub on the ear.
  • Avoid swimming or other water activities that may cause trauma to the ear.
  • Avoid wearing ear plugs as they can cause ear infections.
  • Avoid using hair removal products as they can cause inflammation.
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing.
  • Don’t swim if you have a cauliflower ear.

Take time to care for your ears and remove any objects that may be rubbing on your ears.

When to see a doctor?

If you have a cauliflower ear, see your doctor immediately. They can give you a prescription for an antibiotic to help clear the infection.

They may also prescribe an ear tube to drain the fluid in your ear.

A cauliflower ear can be a dangerous condition. If you have any of the following symptoms, call your doctor:

  • Pain that gets worse with pressure
  • Pain that persists for more than 10 days
  • Persistent ear discharge
  • Infection in the middle or outer ear
  • Dizziness
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty hearing

You may also want to see a doctor if you have a cauliflower ear and you are considering a surgical procedure.

These are some of the symptoms of a perforated eardrum:

  • A popping sensation
  • Drainage from the ear
  • Tearing
  • Persistent pain

Take notice of the following:

  • You are unable to hear as well as you normally could.
  • You have trouble seeing or speaking clearly.
  • You have double vision.
  • You have a fever.

You should seek medical attention if you experience one or more of these symptoms.


A cauliflower ear is a type of ear infection that affects the eardrum and middle ear. This condition often causes a pain in the ear.

You may also experience hearing loss and ear drainage. These symptoms can be severe and last for several weeks.

Treatment for a cauliflower ear depends on the cause.

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