Is It Bad To Remove Earwax?

Is It Bad To Remove Earwax?

earwax removal cotton bud mistake danger
Danger! Cotton Buds Are Not For Earwax Removal!

Is it bad to remove earwax? The key point to remember when answering this question is that it is always bad to remove earwax yourself! Earwax, or 'cerumen', is a sign of a normal, healthy ear and actually performs an essential service for us. This waxy substance coats the thin skin which lines the ear canal; only 1 mm thick at the entrance and getting thinner the further down the canal you go, to only a tenth of a millimetre at the eardrum! It prevents the ear canal from becoming too wet or too dry and its antibacterial properties help to prevent any irritation or infection when trapping any particles of dust, dirt or dead skin cells and then absorbing the debris.

The ear is self-cleaning and will usually make as much wax as it needs.

The movement of the jaw when eating or talking for example, helps to move the old earwax out of the inner ear and into the ear opening where it can fall out naturally. This action, along with normal bathing is usually enough to keep earwax at a normal level. The composition of your earwax can depend on a number of factors such as your age, ethnicity, environment and even your diet can make a difference.

So what can cause an excess, or build-up of earwax and what should you do about it?

Firstly it is important to know the correct course of action to take if you have a build-up of earwax or 'cerumenosis'. As a first step you can buy 'over-the-counter' ear drops which can help to soften the wax and may relieve some symptoms, but any actual removal of wax needs to be done by trained professionals in a clinical setting. This is because the ear canal and the eardrum are very delicate structures which always need to be treated with care and respect. It's certainly never a good idea to stick anything into your ear, especially a child's, because of the risk of infection or permanent damage to your hearing that can occur.


As you age your earwax becomes harder, it can also be affected by narrow or hairy ear canals. Using a 'cotton bud' to remove wax can actually have the opposite effect as it can push the wax further into your ear canal making it impacted and harder to remove. Large clumps of wax pushed down into the ear in this way can lead to painful ear infections, a rupture of the eardrum and many other unpleasant symptoms. Those with a build-up of earwax can experience pain in the ear, a feeling of fullness, partial hearing loss or even tinnitus. There can also be itching, a discharge or smell, coughing and spells of dizziness none of which can be said to be pleasant.

Do Not Insert Cotton Buds Into Ear Canal
Do Not Insert Cotton Buds Into Ear Canal Warning

There's no such thing as 'ear buds'

Many people are under the misapprehension that cotton buds are for ears and call them 'ear buds', but this couldn't be further from the truth. There is a saying that "the smallest thing you should put in your ear is your elbow" and this goes for cotton buds, which should never be inserted into your ears, as noted above.

So to sum up!

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms of an excess of wax don't reach for the nearest 'cotton bud' and attempt to tackle the problem yourself! Get in touch with the trained professionals at the Microsuction Earwax Removal Network.

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How Do You Clear A Blocked Ear?

How Do You Clear A Blocked Ear?

Having a blocked ear can be one of the most frustrating things you experience in your life. It can be itchy, painful, make you feel disoriented or dizzy, and cause hearing loss and tinnitus. People say you should use olive oil drops and just keep using them until the blocked ear clears itself, but half the time it makes the blockage even worse, so what's the best thing to do?

Read on to find out more about how to clear a blocked ear, including what you can do at home to help clear a blocked ear.

Video: How To Clear A Blocked Ear

In the above video, you will find out about different ways to clear a blocked ear, including microsuction ear wax removal and manual instrument ear wax removal, as well as hear from people who have had their blocked ears cleared. Since Coronavirus, we are covered from head to foot in PPE, but the techniques demonstrated remain essentially the same.

Different Methods To Clear A Blocked Ear

There are many way to clear a blocked ear, including ear drops, ear sprays, irrigation (syringing), microsuction and manual instruments. We won't even mention ear candles, which are a dangerous scam. Here is the run down on different methods for clearing blocked ears:

Ear Drops

There are all kinds of ear drops. Some are oil based, some are water-based, and some contain chemicals like peroxide which can cause pain and irritation. They all suffer from the same unwanted potential side-effect, which is that you have to put your head on a side for the drops to go in, and then gravity and the shape of the ear canal combine to funnel the softened ear wax deeper into the canal where it gets narrower and narrower making the blockage even worse. That being said, we do recommend softening ear wax before an earwax removal procedure. For an in-depth read about the different kinds of ear drops you can use, check out my article on how to soften ear wax fast.

Ear Sprays

Ear sprays have the advantage over ear drops in that you don't need to put your head on a side, and they are much, much easier to apply. If you compare, say, pharmacy-grade olive oil, with Earol® sterile, pharmacy-grade olive oil spray, the Earol® wins, because you can easily apply Earol® yourself; you apply it with your head upright, which encourages the ear wax to come out; the spray creates tiny droplets, which get into all the nooks and crannies and penetrate the wax and soften it more quickly. An added plus is that Earol®, being a sealed spray unit, can be used for up to 6 months after first use, while ear drops should be discarded 28 days after opening. Find out more about ear sprays in our article on methods of ear wax removal.

Irrigation / Syringing

Ear syringing was written about by the Ancient Greeks, so it has been around for a long time. Until safer methods came along, it really was the only proper way to clear a blocked ear. However, due to safety concerns, the electric irrigator pump replaced the ear syringe as the fluid pressure can be better regulated. However, there can still be complications such as dizziness, ear infections, hearing loss and tinnitus, as well as injuries such as bruising, bleeding, rupture of the eardrum or damage of the facial nerve. Although most irrigation procedures go smoothly, the chances of a serious complication have led the NHS to largely withdraw ear irrigation services. Since microsuction is far safer, we recommend microsuction ear wax removal in preference to irrigation.

Read on for more ways to clear a blocked ear.

Can You Remove Impacted Ear Wax At Home?

ear irrigation syringe home remedy not recommended

Can You Remove Impacted Ear Wax At Home?

In order to fully answer this question, we must first find out what ear wax is and how it becomes impacted, and then find out about impacted ear wax removal home remedies and the best wax to remove impacted ear wax.

What Is Ear Wax And Where Does It Come From?

Ear wax is actually made by your own ear. It is a mixture of a heavy, acidic oil called cerumen, which is produced in the ceruminous glands that line the outer two thirds of the ear canal, shed skin cells and sweat. Ear wax serves to protect the delicate, thin surface of the ear canal by keeping it moisturised, as well as keeping the ear clean by catching dust, pollen, bacteria and small insects and stopping them from growing (or laying eggs) in your ear. Normally a combination of the jaw squeezing the ear canal from the outside, and the natural skin migration process carries wax out of the ear, bringing with it the aforementioned dust, pollen, bacteria and small insects.

How Does Ear Wax Become Impacted?

They say "the smallest thing you should put in your ear is your elbow", and they're not wrong! Most of the time, ear wax will work its way out of your ear on its own. However, some people have to put things in their ears. For example, they might live by a noisy street or have noisy neighbours, so must wear ear plugs to sleep at night; they might work in a very noisy environment and have to wear ear plugs to protect their hearing from industrial noise; or they might have a hearing loss and need to wear hearing aids to be able to hear clearly. Each time you put something in your ear beyond the entrance of the canal, it pushes ear wax back in that otherwise would have made its way out. If you keep doing this, the wax piles up as it's alternately pushed outwards from the inside, and then back inwards from the outside. Over time, the wax gets compressed and dries out, and can get stuck to the wall of the ear canal like hardened glue. This situation is made even worse when people insert cotton buds into their ears, as the shape of the cotton bud enables wax to be pushed into parts of the ear drum where it doesn't belong. Although some wax will inevitably rub off on the cotton bud tip, most of it gets pushed further into the ear canal, often getting stuck beyond the narrow point of the ear canal or pushed against the ear drum. The more this is done, the more compressed and dried out the wax becomes, eventually getting stuck deep inside the ear canal. This is impacted ear wax.

What Dissolves Ear Wax Fast?

what dissolves ear wax fast

What Dissolves Ear Wax Fast?

There are all kinds of sprays and drops, collectively known as "cerumenolytics", designed to dissolve ear wax fast. Which dissolve earwax the fastest? Which are the heroes and which are the villains? Is it even a good idea to use something that dissolves ear wax fast?

Is Is It A Good Idea To Dissolve Ear Wax Fast?

If your ear is blocked with ear wax, then you will no doubt reply, "Yes! Of course it is!", as an earwax blockage can be frustrating, uncomfortable and even painful. If both ears are blocked with wax, you'll struggle to hear pretty much anything. If one ear is blocked with ear wax, it's hard to work out where sounds are coming from, which is obviously a safety hazard if you are driving or crossing the road, and also a real struggle and very frustrating when someone is talking to you on the side you have your blocked ear. It can be very disorientating, and some people may feel unsteady or dizzy, and generally out of sorts. It's understandable to want to be rid of your ear wax blockage as fast as possible.

However, the ear canal and ear drum are very delicate structures, and need to be treated with gentle care and respect. The skin at the entrance of the ear canal is just one millimetre thick, and the further you go down the ear canal, the thinner it gets, going down to a tenth of a millimetre at the eardrum. Although stronger, more aggressive ear drops may seem like the solution, the can cause irritation in some people, as well as other potential side effects. So which are the heroes and which are the villains?