Should You Still Use Q-Tips To Clean Your Ears?

by Sumdima Rai
Earwax is disgusting isn't it? Blah! But before you pick up that Q-Tip to scrape your ear, we've got to tell you why using Q-Tips is such a bad idea for you.

Firstly, want to know what earwax really is? Okay, close your eyes (and ears) if you're easily grossed out: earwax is a mixture of water soluble secretions and is made up of dead skin cells and other substances, including antibacterial enzymes; fatty acids; alcohols; cholesterol; and squalene.

So basically, earwax is one of your body’s most ingenious protective mechanisms.

Even though it's kinda gross, your earwax helps your body maintain its proper equilibrium. So, forcing it out using Q-tips, cotton swabs, and other foreign objects is a bad idea. 

Still not convienced that you should set down that Q-tip? You should leave your earwax alone for the following reasons:
  • Earwax prevents dust particles, bacteria, and germs from entering and damaging your ears.
  • Even if dust manages to enter the ear canal, earwax will trap the dust and slow the growth of bacteria.
  • It also protects your ear canal skin from being irritated by water.
earwax-q-tipsSo, yeah using Q-Tips is a bad idea. Even the website for Q-Tips advises to use the product “around the outer ear, without entering the ear canal.” The American Academy of Otolaryngology (AAO-HNSF) has released a report about not sticking cotton swabs in your ears and provides tips about earwax removal.

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation, cleaning earwax with cotton swabs, Q-tips, and needles might actually result in damage to the ear, including trauma, impaction of the earwax, and even temporary deafness. It says that these objects push the earwax deeper, and can block the ear canal entirely.

To clean your ears, simply clean the outside with a cloth regularly. There's no need to push anything inside of your ear.  Your ear canals are self-cleaning and earwax is its cleaning agent. Excess earwax, therefore, will fall out automatically. Interestingly enough, movement of your jaw while talking and chewing also helps push the earwax out.

In cases of "cerumen impaction" (which is a fancy way to say blockage of the ear canal by tightly packed earwax), you can easily remedy the situation at home by using ear drops to soften the wax and help it migrate out naturally. In cases of troublesome wax, however, high-pressure irrigation of the ear canal with a syringe may become necessary, which should be done only by a professional.

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