How To Drain A Cauliflower Ear Yourself: DIY Guide (BJJ)

By Tsavo NealLearning BJJLeave a Comment

how to drain a cauliflower ear for bjj

Wondering how to drain a cauliflower ear by yourself?

Cauliflower ear is a build-up of blood between the cartilage of the ear and the skin.

If your earlobe is struck, the underlying cartilage is damaged. This can cause cauliflower ear — also known as “hematoma auris.”

Do jiu-jitsu for long enough, and eventually, you’ll get cauliflower ear. Maybe you’ll get it multiple times. So, it’s important that you learn how to drain your cauliflower ear yourself safely.

If your ear has recently swollen from training, it’s imperative that you drain it within 10-14 days before it hardens. You can no longer drain it when it fully hardens because the blood is replaced by cartilage.

In this post, I’ll show you the 6 steps to drain your cauliflower ear at home.

(NOTE: This is not medical advice. Go to your doctor and have them drain it for you first. Then, if you feel comfortable, you can replicate their process)

How To Drain A Cauliflower Ear Yourself: Quick Links

My Cauliflower Ear Story

During an afternoon no-gi class, my training partner and I were practicing guillotines and guillotine escapes.

It was like any other class, and we got some good rolls in after.

But when I went home to shower, I immediately noticed a small bump in my left ear.

It had finally happened — I got cauliflower ear.

cauliflower ear bjj

On Monday morning, I went to the doctor to drain it.

He was slightly hesitant, saying it would fill up again.

But I asked him to go ahead and drain it.

Here’s how my doctor drained my cauliflower ear:

  1. Put on gloves
  2. Wiped down my ear with an alcohol swab
  3. Injected a 22 gauge syringe
  4. Drew the blood
  5. Took the syringe out
  6. Covered my ear with medical gauze

After that, my cauliflower ear was gone!

drained caulilflower ear bjj

But, when I woke up the next day, it swelled up again. It was a bit smaller than the first instance.

Having closely watched my doctor drain my cauliflower ear, I figured I could replicate his process safely.

So, I went to my local pharmacy and bought some gloves, syringes, and alcohol swabs.

I watched this video…

…and went ahead and drained my cauliflower ear myself.

It worked!

The next day it swelled up again, and I simply repeated these steps.

I did this for a few more days until the swelling stopped completely.

And now, my cauliflower ear is completely unnoticeable.

6 Steps For How To Drain A Cauliflower Ear

Before you drain your cauliflower ear, you’ll need the right supplies.

Here are the 5 things you need to drain a cauliflower ear:

  1. Medical gloves
  2. Alcohol swabs
  3. 18, 20, or 22 gauge syringes
  4. Medical gauze or bandaids
  5. Caulibuds

Once you have these supplies, you can safely drain your cauliflower ear yourself.

supplies used for how to drain a cauliflower ear

Here are the 6 steps for how to drain a cauliflower ear:

1. Put on gloves

Wearing gloves helps prevent injection. You don’t want to touch an open wound with dirty hands.

2. Wipe down your ear with an alcohol swab

Alcohol swabs clean your ear for safe injection.

3. Inject your syringe

From the bottom up, slowly insert the syringe into the swollen part of your ear.

4. Draw the blood to drain the ear

Slowly draw the blood out of the ear.

5. Take out the syringe

Once you’ve drawn the blood out of your ear and the swelling has gone done, slowly take out the syringe.

6. Covered your ear with gauze or a bandaid

Your ear will bleed after taking out the syringe, so cover it with medical gauze or a bandaid to stop the bleeding.

After the bleeding stops, cover your ear with Caulibuds

caulibuds for preventing cauliflower ear for bjj

Caulibuds cauliflower ear magnets

IMPORTANT: If you don’t use magnets like Caulibuds on your ear after the bleeding stops, your ear will swell up again. You’ll have to follow this process every time it swells up (every day) for 10-14 days.

That’s it! You’ve successfully drained your cauliflower ear.

Keep in mind that it’s still a wound. So, you’ll have to train around it for a few weeks.

How To Train BJJ While Your Cauliflower Ear Is Healing

Can you train jiu-jitsu when your cauliflower ear is still healing?

Yes. You’ll just have to train around it.

Keep in mind that cauliflower ear is an injury. And like other injuries, it takes time to heal.

Jiujiterios recommend taking 2 weeks off rolling to prevent your ear from swelling up again and to let it heal properly.

But 2 weeks is a lot of time off.

I continued to roll as my cauliflower ear was healing. I just modified my training.

I told my training partner that if they get my head, I’ll tap. That way, there’s no chance that they could cause trauma to my ear.

It turned out to be a fun, productive “mini-game.”

It helps you focus on one of the most important principles of jiu-jitsu: don’t let your opponent touch your head.

Rolling with this constraint helped me focus on guard retention, sweeps, and staying on top.

You absolutely can train while your cauliflower ear is healing, just make sure that you avoid any positions where your opponent grabs your head.

How To Avoid Cauliflower Ear While You Train BJJ

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

If you’re worried about cauliflower ear, then there are a few things you can do to avoid it.

3 Ways To Avoid Cauliflower Ear

The first is to wear headgear. Headgear will protect your ears from all of the friction that happens when you escape certain positions. And it will help you avoid getting cauliflower ear entirely.

Cliff Keen Headgear for BJJ

The second is to prevent your opponent from grabbing your head. Easier said than done — this will happen. However, if you escape by grinding your head out of the position, you’re risking causing trauma to your ear. Learn how to escape these positions without trying to twist your head out.

The third is to deal with swelling as soon as it happens. There’s the cauliflower ear when your ear swells up, and there’s the cauliflower when you don’t drain your ear and it hardens. Deal with the former, and you won’t have to deal with the latter. Keep some syringes, alcohol swabs, and gauze at your home in case you need to drain your ear. And then, invest in some magnets to prevent re-swelling. If you drain the swelling as soon as it occurs, you’ll prevent your cauliflower ear from hardening and becoming permanent. 

Cauliflower ear is avoidable. But if you do get it, learning how to drain it quickly and safely on your own will keep your ears looking pristine.

How To Drain A Cauliflower Ear: Conclusion

Cauliflower ear is just a part of jiu-jitsu. And it doesn’t have to be a big deal.

It happens. And now, you know how to drain a cauliflower ear by yourself using these simple steps.

You can train while it’s healing as long as you’re careful.

And if you’re really worried about it becoming permanent, wear headgear, don’t let your opponents touch your head, and drain it as soon as you see any swelling.

What’s your cauliflower ear story? What’s worked best for you to drain or prevent it?

Leave a comment in the section below.

Happy rolling!

tsavo neal

Tsavo Neal

Tsavo is the founder of BJJ Equipment, an assistant BJJ instructor at InFighting, and a BJJ purple belt. He's a passionate hobbyist and BJJ gear/equipment aficionado. He launched BJJ Equipment in 2022 to make it easy for grapplers to find the best BJJ gear so they look, feel, and perform at their best on the mats.

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