Earwax can be Healthy. Cerumen is vital for protecting your inner ears and hearing. Excessive ear wax can accumulate and lead to itchiness, pain, a feeling of fullness, diminished hearing, and even coughing. Here, the best and safest ways to keep it in balance.
Everybody has sticky, oily earwax in our ear canals. Normally, it naturally migrates from inside your ear canal outward to eventually falling out. The oily quality of earwax moisturizes the skin inside your ear canal. Wax prevents cuts and scratches, and the wax’s acidity can destroy bacteria, protecting you from all kinds of infections.
About one-third of older adults have excessive Cerumen. Age is a key factor in how likely you are to have an overabundance of earwax. In some cases genetics plays a role too.
“Cerumen buildup is more common among people who use hearing aids”
Cerumen buildup is more common among people who use hearing aids, because the instruments physically block wax from leaving the ear.
Safe Ways to Clean Your Ears at Home
Unless excessive earwax is causing problems for you—pain, reduced hearing, or any of the other problems mentioned above— just leave it alone.
Many people consider removing the wax as a regular part of their hygiene routine. Several common removal methods—such as using cotton-tipped swabs or ear candles—can do harm, and actually don’t work very well.
To remove earwax, consider the following:
Check out drugstore eardrops. Over-the-counter (OTC) ear drops, either oil- or water-based, may soften cerumen, making it easier for it to work its way out of your ear on its own. A 2018 analysis by the independent Cochrane collaboration found that ear drops may be helpful for clearing out cerumen, but that no specific type of ear drop worked better than others. Look for products labeled for clearing or removing earwax
Flush it out gently. Another recommended method: softly flushing your ears with fluid, using an ear irrigation kit. These OTC kits usually include a bulb syringe or another type of ear syringe, along with ear drops. You can use couple drops of baby oil prior to flushing and get better results.
Skip the swabs. Resist the temptation to insert cotton-tipped swabs, hair pins, paper clips, or any other foreign object, into your ears. These can all cause serious ear injuries, including eardrum perforation.
Avoid ear candling. This home remedy involves inserting a long, hollow tube, made of fabric soaked in beeswax or paraffin, into your ear, and lighting the other end on fire. This supposedly creates suction through the tube that draws out earwax. This is simply not true. The wax seen at the end of the burning is from the material that is burnt.
“Common sense tells us, fire and hot wax, is not safe that close to your face.”