Ear wax isn’t just unsightly.
It can cause other problems for your ears that, if left untreated, can become serious.
From struggling to hear to suffering from unnecessary pain and discomfort, excess ear wax can be a problem.
However, it can be surprisingly simple to remove.
Let’s take a look at 9 of the best ways to remove ear wax.
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What is Ear Wax?
So, what is ear wax? Morgan Heinrich explains that ear wax is actually not wax. Instead, it’s a combination of hair, dead skin cells, and other secretions that have come together in the air canal to form the waxy substance you can see.
According to our genetics, there are two types of different ear wax you may experience.
The first is dry ear wax. Dry earwax is crumbly in texture and usually is quite light in color. People of North-Asian descent are more likely to have this type of ear wax.
The second type is wet ear wax. Wet earwax is sticky to touch and tends to be yellowish brown. It can even produce an odor. People of African and European descent are more likely to have this type.
So, what does ear wax do for your ears, then?
Its primary job in there is to protect. It lines both the ear canal and eardrum and protects these two sensitive areas from the intrusion of foreign objects.
Ear Wax Removal with Hydrogen Peroxide
Now that we know what ear wax is and why it's there let's take a look at our simple yet practical tips on ear wax removal. Our first recommendation is to try hydrogen peroxide on that excess ear wax. Healthline explains that hydrogen peroxide has been an active, proven ingredient in many ear wax removal products over the years.
It is a tried and tested substance and is easy to administer at home.
Hydrogen peroxide comes most commonly in the form of eardrops. A 2015 study conducted by Australian Family Physician found that hydrogen peroxide eardrops are also a great way to assist the ears in self-cleaning.
To make the most of your hydrogen peroxide ear drops, we recommend you administer them lying on your side. The ear you are treating should be facing upwards. Once you're in position, administer the prescribed number of eardrops into your ear, until it is full of fluid. Let five minutes pass for the liquid to filter through the built-up earwax slowly.
After five minutes is up, you can move into a sitting position and soak up any excess fluid with a tissue. Repeat this process to the other ear.
Removing Ear Wax with Baby Oil
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Baby oil can be another effective way to help you with the ear wax removal process. It is considered a safe substance to put in your ears and is carried out at home. Erin Monahan of Livestrong explains you need between 1 and 2 tablespoons of baby oil for this procedure. Warm your baby oil until it reaches room temperature.
The University of Maryland Medical Facility advises caution when considering the temperature of anything going into your ear. They explain that anything cooler or warmer than room temperature may cause you to feel dizzy or experience vertigo.
Tilt your head to the side, with the ear you are working with facing up. Pull down on your earlobe to ensure that the ear canal is open.
Use an eyedropper to administer two or three drops of the baby oil. Keep your head tilted for several minutes so that the baby oil can soak through properly.
Hold a paper towel against your ear while you slowly bring your head back to its normal position. Hold the paper towel against your ear until you're sure that it has absorbed any excess.
We recommend repeating this process twice a day for several days. Try administering the baby oil before you take a shower.
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Erin talks about another way to remove a particular type of ear wax you may have. Because flaky ear wax is looser, it doesn’t require a complete liquid to enter the ear canal. We also do not recommend using cotton-tipped swabs in your ear for any type of ear wax removal.
Instead, soak a cotton ball in mineral oil for flaky ear wax. Tilt your head to one side, so your ear is open and exposed. Place the cotton ball over the entrance to your ear canal. Do not force the cotton ball inside your ear.
Hold your head tilted to one side for approximately a minute. This will be enough time for the liquid in the cotton ball to soak your ear canal.
Bring your head back up to its normal position, then tilt it the opposite way. This will let the wax drip out. Use a piece of tissue to catch the wax as it drips out.
If your other ear also has flaky excess wax, repeat this process. We recommend you do this once a day for two or three days, or until the wax has been removed successfully.
Using Saltwater for Ear Wax Removal
If you’re looking for a completely natural home remedy that doesn’t require a commercialized product, try using salt to assist you in ear wax removal. Top 10 Home Remedies say that salt is an excellent method to use because its effective at softening the wax inside the ear, making it easier to break down and remove.
For this method, you’ll use approximately one teaspoon of salt. Mix this with warm water until it dissolves completely. Remember to keep the water at room temperature.
Once your salt dissolves properly, get a cotton ball. Soak the cotton ball in your salt water. Tilt your head and use the cotton ball to gently squeeze two or three drops of your saltwater into your ear canal.
Keep your head at a 90-degree angle for three to five minutes. This will give the salt time to soften the ear wax and break it down for removal.
Once three to five minutes has passed, tilt your head at a 90-degree angle in the opposite direction. Allow any excess salt water in your ear to drain out.
Using a dry, clean cloth, rub the outer part of your ear where the softened ear wax will have accumulated. It should come away quickly with the cloth.
Try Olive Oil to Remove Ear Wax
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Another excellent natural home remedy is olive oil. Olive oil is an effective alternative to ear wax removal products that may contain chemicals in them.
Olive oil works similarly to salt – it helps to soften the wax in your ear, making it easier to remove.
Additionally, olive oil has antiseptic properties that can protect your inner ear against the possibility of an infection.
To remove any ear wax with olive oil, warm one to two tablespoons to room temperature. Using a small eyedropper, administer three to four drops of olive oil into the ear that’s affected.
For this ear wax removal remedy, you’ll want to leave your solution inside the ear canal for up to ten minutes. This allows enough time for the ear wax to soften and become removable.
Once ten minutes is up, tilt your head to one side and use a clean cloth to wipe away the loosened ear wax, along with any excess oil. Remember not to use anything smaller, like an earbud, to carry out your ear wax removal.
This method is also effective with mustard oil. Mustard oil carries similar properties and benefits to olive oil.
Using Ear Wax Removal Kits
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If you’re looking for something more robust that comes with a couple of options should you run into trouble, you can try using an ear wax removal kit.
Caroline Praderio of Insider explains that ear wax removal kits are widely available at pharmacies.
They are over-the-counter products that don’t require a prescription.
These ear wax removal kits typically include ear drops to help with loosening the wax over the course of a week or two. They’ll also often have a bulb that can assist you in shooting water into your ear. This can help to eradicate any remaining ear wax that hasn’t been loosened enough by the ear drops.
Shooting water into the ear canal is commonly known as irrigation. It can be carried out with something as simple as a syringe full of water. However, there are other heavy-duty tools like the bulb which can shoot the water into your ear with some force.
Caroline says this is an effective way to remove stubborn ear wax if you’ve already tried other methods like ear drops. While it’s not the first port of call, it’s a viable option if your wax is proving to be difficult to remove.
Remember, you always have the option of consulting with your doctor or healthcare professional if you don’t feel like store-bought products are doing the job.
Vinegar and Alcohol for Removing Ear Wax
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Wikihow describes how using a home-brewed mixture of vinegar and alcohol can be a powerful remedy for successfully removing unwanted ear wax.
This tried, and true method is especially helpful if you're suffering from swimmer's ear.
Swimmer's ear is an infection that develops in the outer ear canal. This is the result of water becoming trapped in the ear after swimming.
The reason why this method is useful for swimmer's ear is that the alcohol in the solution helps the water to evaporate.
In a glass or bowl, mix together equal parts rubbing alcohol and white vinegar. Soak a cotton ball in this solution. Tilt your head sideways to allow easy access – you may want to sit down for this.
Administer two to three sizeable drops of the solution by squeezing the cotton ball just above your ear. Allow for a few minutes until the solution has softened the ear wax before wiping away any excess with a dry cloth.
Repeat this procedure on the other ear if both ears need ear wax removal.
What to Avoid When Removing Ear Wax
As important as it is to know how best to remove ear wax, it’s equally important to understand what to avoid when doing so.
Nelly Edmondson of Health Central explains there are many everyday household products you may consider beneficial in the removal of ear wax. However, they may be doing more harm than good.
Products like these include bobby pins, earbuds, toothpicks and paper clips. While you may notice some wax coming out as a result of using tools like these, they could, in fact, end up pushing the ear wax deeper into your ear.
This can lead to possible injury, irritation, or even an ear infection. We recommend avoiding these types of products when removing ear wax.
Another ear wax removal method we don’t recommend is using an ear candle. While it may sound like a good idea, it’s not. This method involves placing a hollow candle of waxed paper in the entrance of the ear and setting it on fire. The risks involved with this procedure include burning and perforation of the eardrum. What’s more, there’s no definitive proof that this is an effective way to remove ear wax.
Making Ear Wax Removal Easy
Ear wax is irritating and aesthetically unpleasing.
While you may just not like the sight of it, removing excess ear wax from your inner ear can also help to keep your ears clean and healthy.
Regularly removing ear wax can lower the risk of developing an ear infection and could improve your hearing.
Nobody wants too much ear wax in their ears.
Luckily, there are multiple, proven methods you can use to carry out your ear wax removal successfully.
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