Earwax and Ear Care

There is a great deal of confusion and misinformation when it comes to earwax and cleaning the ears. While many consider earwax (also known as cerumen) to be dirty, the truth is that it serves a very important function.  Earwax is responsible for keeping your ears clean, and it also protects them from trauma as well as infection. An insect that enters the ear can cause problems, but earwax is designed to prevent this from happening.

Avoid cotton swabs

The ears should never be cleaned with cotton swabs under any circumstances. When cotton swabs (also known as Q-tips) are applied to the ears, you push the ear wax deeper inside the ear canal. The wax presses up against your eardrum, which can damage the external ear or possibly rupture the eardrum itself. It is not necessary to clean the ear in this way, and when you do, the body will actually produce more earwax.

When your jaw moves, the earwax will gradually be forced out of the ear canal. Earwax is responsible for capturing dirt or contaminants before they can enter your ear, so getting rid of it will make your ear more vulnerable to infection. Sometimes after showering or bathing people may notice water in their ears, and may be tempted to use a cotton swab in order to clean it out. A much better method is to evaporate the liquid by using a hair dryer to blow air into your ears. Earwax which is outside your ears can be removed through normal bathing.

Apply mineral oil to your ears rather than sprays

Mineral oil which is at room temperature is excellent for cleaning out earwax. Many people use baby oil, but baby oil should be avoided because it uses perfumes that may be irritating to the ears. Some people also use specially designed earwax sprays, but these have not been shown to be very effective. When your ears are blocked due to excessive wax, it is best to take a cotton ball that has been dipped into mineral oil, and then apply it to your ear canal for ten to twenty minutes. You will need to lean sideways with the ear where the cotton ball will be applied facing upwards.

Your ears will produce excess wax when irritated

If you notice that your ears tend to produce an abnormal amount of wax, this could be a sign that something could be irritating them. For instance, if you use ear buds a lot, your ears could become irritated and respond by increased wax production. People who have a skin ailment called eczema may also notice an increased amount of earwax within their ear canals. When this happens it is best to apply mineral oil, and if this doesn’t work you should contact your doctor. Some earwax is necessary for the healthy functioning of your ears, so it is best to discontinue using cotton swabs and other methods to completely remove it. If you still want it to be removed or flushed out manually, contact your doctor for assistance.