What Causes Auricular Hematoma?

Reviewed on 1/8/2021
Auricular hematoma is bruising or swelling seen over the earlobes.
Auricular hematoma is bruising or swelling seen over the earlobes.

Auricular hematoma is bruising or swelling seen over the earlobes.

Physical trauma is the most common cause of auricular hematoma. Repeated injuries to the ear are the most common reasons for the formation of ear hematoma. Injuries to the auricle are common because of its exposed position and lack of protection from the surrounding structures. Some of the high-risk sports that may lead to auricular hematoma include:

  • Rugby
  • Boxing
  • Wrestling
  • Mixed martial arts

Wrestlers who do not wear protective gear are at a high risk of such kinds of injuries. Repeated hits to the ear cause damage to the blood vessels supplying the earlobes and cause blockage of blood flow to the ear cartilage (supporting tissue of the ear). This causes the cartilage to die, and scar tissue is formed in its place. Due to its lumpy bumpy appearance, the untreated auricular hematoma with the scarred tissue is called a cauliflower ear.

Other common causes of auricular hematoma:

What is auricular hematoma?

Auricular hematoma describes the collection of blood below the skin of the outer ear, typically resulting from blunt trauma during sports. When auricular hematoma is not fully drained, recurs, or is left untreated, it may lead to permanent deformity known as a cauliflower ear. It can develop within minutes to hours of the blunt trauma.

What are the signs and symptoms of auricular hematoma?

The signs and symptoms of auricular hematoma depend on the severity of the trauma. The most common signs of auricular hematoma include:

  • Pain around the bruise
  • Swelling
  • Bruising or discoloration around the ear
  • Deformity of the curvature of the ear

Severe symptoms include:

How is auricular hematoma treated?

The goal of the treatment for auricular hematoma includes:

  • Preventing permanent damage to the cartilage by draining the blood from the hematoma as soon as possible
  • Treating a potential infection
  • Reducing inflammation and swelling

The physician drains the hematoma by

  • Giving local anesthesia to the affected area.
  • Making an incision on the skin overlying the hematoma under aseptic conditions.
  • Evacuating the hematoma with the control of bleeding and suction.
  • Irrigating the site with normal saline after removing the hematoma.
  • Applying a compression bandage on the site.
  • Applying antibiotics to the skin for 7-10 days.
  • Monitoring the patient every 24 hours for several days.

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References
WebMD. Cauliflower Ear. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/cauliflower-ear-symptoms-causes-treatments#1

Cunha JP. Cauliflower Ear. MedicineNet. https://www.medicinenet.com/cauliflower_ear/article.htm

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