January 28, 2013

Is there any way to prevent excessive earwax?

By Tiffany Meier, Au.D., CCC-A
Audiology Consultants, P.C.

Simply answered, “not really.” Earwax, also referred to as cerumen, is a substance produced by glands in the outer
portion of the ear canal. Earwax serves as a protective agent in the ear, working to trap dust particles, debris and even bugs that may enter the ear canal.

Believe it or not, the ear is a self-cleaning agent. This means that the ear is able to clean itself through the slow migration of skin cells from the eardrum to the opening of the ear canal. The migration process, along with natural movements of the jaw, such as chewing and speaking, typically allow earwax to slowly work its way out of the ear canal on its own. In other words, in most cases it is not necessary to clean our ears through the use of cotton swabs, bobby pins or any other instrument of choice. As a matter of fact, any time we place an instrument into the ear canal in an attempt to clean our ears, it can result in pushing substances such as earwax and debris deeper into the canal possibly causing impaction.

In addition, we run the risk of causing damage to the ear by accidentally scraping the ear canal or puncturing the eardrum.

While there are no proven ways to prevent excessive earwax, avoiding the use of cotton swabs or any other instrument to clean the ears is strongly recommended. If you are concerned that you may have excessive earwax, it is recommended that you see your physician. If excessive earwax is present, your physician will likely be able to remove it and also be able to make the appropriate recommendations for follow-up.
Resource: entnet.org