How to Prevent Cauliflower Ear in BJJ?

 Practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu alters the body in many ways. It can do wonders for a person’s physique; however, it can also cause one or both ears of a practitioner to mutilate and end up looking like a cauliflower, hence the name ‘’cauliflower ears’’.

The thought of having cauliflower ears can discourage people from continuing their BJJ journey. With this in mind, one cannot help but wonder if preventing cauliflower ear is possible. In short, yes it is. Preventing your ears from mutilating is possible.

Cauliflower ear is considered a hard-earned badge of honor gained from putting in time on the mats by some, while others consider them disgusting and cannot bear to look at them. One thing people can agree on is that cauliflower ear is a signal of danger as it means that the person is a fighter.

Before this article is over, you will have answered any questions you had regarding cauliflower ear.

Preventing Cauliflower Ear

Training combat sports does not necessarily mean that you will develop cauliflower ear. Preventing your ear cartilage to break and ending up with cauliflower ear is possible through the use of headgear and certain methods.

First of all, not everyone is likely to develop cauliflower ear. There are a few signs that you can be on the lookout for to determine how likely are you to develop it.

 If your ear is red and constantly hurts or gets bruised really easily after each sparring session, then you are likely to develop it if you do not take the necessary precautions. On the contrary, some people never experience any of those symptoms and can roll just fine without having to worry about their ears.

The best way to prevent cauliflower ear is by using headgear as it is designed specifically for ear protection. The most common headgear type is the one regularly used by wrestlers; headgear that consists of plastic outer shells. However, not everyone is a fan of that kind of ear protection.

 For those people, luckily, there is a lot of ear protection gear to choose from. Other options made from fabric that feature an integrated shock-absorbing foam for effective shock dispersion are also very effective.

Bear in mind to get headgear that properly fits your head. If it is too loose, then your ears are prone to injury due to the friction of the loose headgear.

Once a person develops cauliflower ear, he will have to live with it as it is permanent. Although the only guarantee of preventing cauliflower ear is to completely stop training as no other methods are 100% certain, you may want to leave that as a last resort.

What Causes Cauliflower Ear?

In order to better understand how to efficiently protect your ears, it is important to know how exactly a cauliflower ear is developed.

Cauliflower ear is an injury related to combat sports that involve grappling and strikes to the head. When ears experience blunt force trauma from strikes and kicks, constant friction or just bend hard enough from escaping a guillotine, for example, the ear cartilage breaks and the ear swells up.

That leads to a hematoma, which is a collection of blood that clots and blocks nutrients from reaching the ear. In the event of a blood supply blockage, the affected cartilage may die and fold in on itself. Ultimately, due to scar tissue, the ear ends up taking the shape of a cauliflower.

Moreover, it depends on the kind of BJJ game a practitioner plays. For example, guard players typically have fewer chances to develop it than people who prefer takedowns and passing the guard.


Every time blood starts building up in your ear, get some ice for the swelling, a needle, and a syringe, and have somebody help you drain it.  The next step is to put something on your ear and wrap your head and ear with gauze to compress the damaged ear for a couple of hours and let it coagulate.

Should liquid continue to build up in your ear tomorrow day, do not worry, as it is not uncommon. Simply repeat this process again. Moreover, apply ice to your ear during the following days to help with the swelling.

If you still want to train after completing the previous two steps, then avoid sparring, be extra careful if you decide to roll or protect your ear with headgear until your damaged ear heals. Utilize this method every time your ear gets injured to minimize the damage.

The last resort is to have plastic surgery known as otoplasty to correct the appearance of your damaged ears. During this procedure, the surgeon either cuts away a part of the cartilage or reshapes your ear through the use of stitches.


By now, you may have asked if there are any consequences apart from the deformed appearance of the ear. Rest assured that there are no fatal consequences, but there are a few ones to consider.

Cauliflower ear complications range from not being able to use headphones to completely or partly losing the ability to hear in more serious cases. Another pesky consequence of having fully developed cauliflower ears is constant pain and having to drain it from time to time.

As previously mentioned, it is a badge of honor to some people. Many people cannot wait to get it. It is true that cauliflower ears may be a sign that somebody is a fighter; however, they are not a testament to how good somebody is as some people are prone to developing it and get it at white belt.

Moreover, in a professional work environment, it can be frowned upon, and depending on the occupation, it can cost a person his job. Therefore, think twice before resisting to wear headgear if you are prone to developing it and want to keep on training.


Practicing BJJ or any other combat sport definitely has its share of complications that go hand in hand with it. Cauliflower ear is an injury just like any other, and just like with any other injury, necessary precautions should be taken to prevent it, and should prevention fail, it should be treated accordingly.

Provided you want to avoid having your ears look like a cauliflower if you are prone to it, wear a headguard. On the contrary, if you consider that injury as cool, then keep on grinding and you will get it. The important thing is to not allow it to keep you from your Brazilian jiu-jitsu journey.

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