Ear wax, what most would like to rid of, is actually good stuff (in moderation)! Our body produces wax to help protect us. Wax, technically known as cerumen, moves out of the ear naturally and by doing this it helps clean our ear.
In addition to being a cleanser, wax has a number of other benefits. It traps dust and dirt; it is a lubricant for the skin in the canal and therefore keeps the ears from getting too dry and the skin from getting scaly and itchy. Testing on ear wax has shown that it has both antibacterial and antifungal properties, therefore protecting your ear canals from fungal and bacterial infections. Ear wax serves as an important protective barrier for your ear canal and it is important to have it in your ears.
For years a cotton swab, more commonly referred to as the “Q-Tip”, was the go-to device for cleaning the ear. Individuals think they are getting the wax out of the ear with a cotton swab, but in reality you are only getting out a very small proportion and pushing the rest deeper into the canal. This prevents the wax from doing its job and protecting the ear canal. Additionally, sticking anything in your ears is very DANGEROUS. That includes car keys, hair clips, pencils and cotton swabs. The ear canal and ear drum are very sensitive and you can cause damage which could require surgery or in some cases cause permanent hearing loss.
It is therefore very important to leave the wax in place and let it protect and clean your ears as it was designed to do naturally. If you feel like you have an excessive amount of ear wax and it is bothering you or impacting your ability to hear, contact your family physician or Audiologist to have your ears cleaned professionally and safely.
Unless you are a trained professional do NOT put anything in your ear smaller than your elbow!