What is earwax?
Earwax is the combination of dead skin cells, skin oils, and sweat.
Why do some people have more earwax than others?
Everyone’s body is different. So some people will shed skin cells and oils, etc, more than others. Those people will typically produce more wax.
Why does earwax get stuck in your ear?
The average ear canal is bendy- it has two bends to be exact. It also will be tilted at a slight angle so that the opening of the ear canal is tilted farther down than the other end inside your ear. This natural shape, kind of like a water slide, should allow ear wax to naturally travel out of the ear on its own. However, many people have ears that are shaped differently than the “average ear”. The bends will be extra bendy, or the ear canals won’t be tilted downward, keeping the earwax trapped inside the ear as it forms.
Can I just use a Q-tip to clean out my own ears at home?
The short answer- no. We do not recommend using Q-tips, as satisfying as it may be. Although you may grab onto some wax when you go digging into your ear, you will most likely also push some earwax farther into your ear canal. When this happens, it can become compacted too far back for you to reach safely. Your ears can then become completely clogged, making it hard to hear and forcing you to see a professional to have the wax removed.
You also run the risk of perforating your eardrum by accidentally stabbing it with the Q-tip OR by pushing the earwax onto the eardrum so that earwax dries onto the eardrum, causing the eardrum to perforate upon wax removal. Perforating your eardrum is not fun- it can be very painful and take months to heal, leaving you with a hearing loss in the meantime.
What about ear candling?
Ear candling may look cool on the advertisements, but it actually does nothing to remove earwax from your ear. Research has been done to determine the effectiveness of ear candling and found that in no instance of use did any earwax come out of a person’s ear when using an ear candle. In fact, several people ended up with more wax in their ear, as the wax from the candle drained into the ear canal- even burning the person’s eardrum on occasion.
Why do my ears feel/sound better after ear candling? The heat from the candle can heat up your earwax, causing it to move around in your ear. This may temporarily open up a clog in your ear, until the wax moves back.
Ear candling is dangerous and ineffective, so it’s best to just say no.
What can I do to help prevent earwax build-up?
We recommend a wax-removing oil, such as Debrox, to soften earwax and help it naturally migrate out of your ear on its own. You can also irrigate your ears with a 1:1 water and hydrogen peroxide solution regularly if you have a history of earwax build-up.
Unfortunately, some people will be prone to earwax build-up. If you are one of those people, you may need to have the wax removed by a professional semi-regularly. This can be done by scooping the earwax out of the ear with a curette, or by water-irrigation by a trained professional.
If you need earwax removed from your ear, call us and we can schedule your appointment.