Why you should leave earwax alone
Although it is widely popular and irresistible, inserting cotton-tipped swabs into your ears has been strongly discouraged by health experts. Here’s why you should reconsider before you reach for cotton swaps every day.
1. Earwax is not a sign of poor hygiene
The medical term for earwax is cerumen and it has natural benefits for your ears. Cerumen is a natural moisturiser and prevents the skin inside the ear from drying out. It also traps dirt from reaching deep inside the ear canal, absorbs dead skin cells and prevents bacteria from reaching the inner ear.
Everyone produces a different amount of earwax depending on factors such as ethnicity, age, environment and diet. It is not a sign that you have bad hygiene.
2. It can be harmful
Inserting cotton swabs into your ear can damage the ear canal or eardrum. It can also push earwax further into the canal and this can cause a feeling of pressure on the ear and diminished hearing. Clumps of ear wax pushed down near the eardrum can also lead to painful ear infections.
3. It’s unnecessary
The ear self-cleans itself so not routine maintenance is required. Earwax is produced within the ear canal and naturally migrates from inside to outside. For those who make more earwax than the average person or if the earwax becomes hard and dry, seeing a doctor is your best option.
Your doctor can recommend over-the-counter ear drops that can soften earwax and allow it to exit your ear with ease. They may also look inside your ear and use instruments specifically designed to remove earwax.