Healthy ears should clean themselves. However, sometimes excess wax can accumulate and make hearing difficult. There are various options on how to clean your ears, some being safer than others.
Earwax has antibacterial properties and naturally protects and lubricates your ear canals. It protects your ears by trapping harmful substances, like dirt and dust, from getting deep inside the canal. Your ears would be very dry and itchy without earwax.
Here are a few dos and don’ts for cleaning your ears.
What to use
If you absolutely need to clean your ears, opt for something that will soften or remove wax from the outside of your ear canal. A few drops of baby oil, mineral oil or glycerin can help to loosen the wax. Use a warm damp washcloth to soothe any pain inside the ear and soften the wax. You can buy an at-home ear cleaning kit from the pharmacy as well.
You can also irrigate your ears with a syringe. Rinse out the ear canal with room temperature water and saline solution. This method is more effective if you use mineral or baby oil half an hour before.
Do not try to rinse your ears if you have diabetes or a hole in your eardrum.
What not to use
Cotton swabs are a well-known method for cleaning your ears. However, doctors agree that putting anything like a cotton swab inside your ear is dangerous and will cause more harm than good.
Ear wax is formed in the outer section of the ear. Using a cotton swab can push the wax against your eardrum and cause a blockage. This can result in infection and even a ruptured eardrum. Ouch!
Avoid using hollow candles that can be inserted into your ear and lit at the other end. These can burn and pierce the inside of your ear.
Your ear wax will naturally move around when you chew and move your jaw. The wax will loosen, dry up and fall out of your ear. There is no need to pour wax and pointy objects into your ear canal.
Go to the doctor
Earwax impaction can be very painful, and you may be tempted to clean out whatever is causing the pain. Symptoms of impact include ringing in your ear, impaired hearing, dizziness and a cough.
Go to a doctor, or hearing specialist, before trying any at-home methods you have found on the internet. The doctor can identify the problem and treat it safely in their office.