Do’s and don’ts of getting rid of earwax
Earwax, also known as cerumen, is a gray, orange or yellow material made in the ear canal. It cleans and protects the ears from bacteria, dust, foreign particles, and microorganisms. In normal conditions, wax works its way out of the canal and into the ear opening naturally. However, when there is a build-up of wax, there are many ways to remove it. Some are safe, and some are not. Let’s review best practices for dealing with earwax.
- Do understand that earwax is normal. If it does not block the ear canal or impede your hearing, it can be left as is.
- Do know the symptoms of earwax build-up. These include decreased hearing, ear fullness, ringing in the ears, and changes to hearing aid functionality (distortion, etc.).
- Do seek medical help if you experience a change in hearing, ringing, or fullness in your ears, and/or ear pain. Other conditions may exhibit symptoms like earwax build-up, such as ear infections. See a medical professional to rule these out if you experience any of the previously mentioned signs.
- Do ask a medical professional prior to using at-home remedies to remove earwax. Certain medical conditions can make some at-home remedies unsafe.
- Don’t clean your ears too much. Overcleaning can cause irritation or infection of the ear canal and can even cause the wax to build up.
- Don’t put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear. Avoid using cotton swabs, bobby pins, keys, paper clips, etc. to clean or scratch your ears. These can cause damage to your ear canal — such as a cut, or even puncture of the eardrum — which can lead to many other issues.
- Don’t use ear candles. Studies have shown ear candling does not reduce the amount of wax in individuals’ ear canals. Additionally, ear candling can damage the ear canal and eardrum.
- Don’t forget to clean your hearing aids as recommended by your hearing healthcare professional.
Find out more: Ear Syringing and Wax Removal