What is ear wax? Why do we have it? And how should I clean my ears?

Ear wax is normal. It is made in the ear canal and is composed of old skin, natural skin oils and sometimes dust and debris. It has antifungal and antibacterial properties too. Wax is the way the ear cleans and protects itself.



Generally, it is recommended to let the wax come out naturally, as it will usually migrate out of the ear over time. Or if the ear is plugged, have the wax professionally removed. Impacted ear wax can cause temporary hearing loss, tinnitus, itchiness, and even severe pain.

However, some people do seem to produce more wax than others. Pushing anything in to your ear – cotton buds, hearing aids, or earplugs can push the wax back in the ear and build up a blockage. That’s when it can cause a problem. If you wear hearing aids it can also clog the receivers and cause repair problems.

I recommend seeing an Ear Nurse, Audiologist or Doctor who uses a microscope and micro-suction removal technique. Some offices use a flushing technique with water but I don’t recommend this as it can be uncomfortable; and in some cases, if you have an eardrum perforation or medical condition, can be dangerous.

Oh, and definitely stay away from ‘ear candles’. It’s never a good idea to set fire to something and put it on your head.

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