Did you know there is a proper way to clean your ears? What’s the best way to remove earwax and keep your ears healthy? Here are some ear cleaning dos and don’ts.
Do clean your ears gently
Be gentle with your ears. Earwax forms in the ear and is your body’s self-cleaning method. It collects dirt and debris from inside your ears and is then swept out when you move your head and jaw. Because of this self-cleaning, vigorous washing is not necessary. A gentle wash of your outer ear with some warm water and a washcloth a few times a week is all that is needed. If you want to loosen earwax, take a shower and tilt your head a bit to the side and allow warm water to fill your ear canal. Then drain the water by tipping your head in the opposite direction.
Don’t use cotton swabs
Wait a minute! Isn’t that what cotton swabs are for? Actually, no. Cotton swabs are meant to clean the outer ear and should never be inserted into the ear canal. If you’ve been using cotton swabs in your ear for years, it’s time to stop. The swabs can push earwax into the ear and the cotton may irritate the ear canal.
Do use eardrops if necessary
If you have earwax buildup, commercial eardrops can help clear the wax. But overuse can irritate the ear canal and lead to an infection. These products should be used only once or twice a month. A few drops of mineral oil or baby oil once or twice a week also can help clear earwax. Before trying any at-home treatment methods, contact your hearing care provider to ensure you’re using the proper products.
Don’t forget the old saying…
“Never stick anything in your ear smaller than your elbow.” You’ve likely heard it before, and it’s good advice. Do not use pen caps or bobby pins to try to remove wax – that’s worse than a cotton swab! Any object, especially one that has a pointed tip, can bruise or rupture your eardrum.
Do avoid unsafe treatments
A popular one is “ear candling” to remove earwax. As you lie on your side, a special hollow candle is burned above your ear canal. Supposedly it creates a vacuum and sucks out earwax. The American Academy of Audiology and many other highly-respected groups call the process dangerous and ineffective.
Don’t try to cure serious problems at home
If your ears are plugged up or feel blocked and at-home solutions don’t work, it’s time to see your health care provider. Earaches, odor, itching, pain and ringing in the ears are all symptoms of wax impaction or more significant issues.
If you wear hearing aids, you may produce more wax, which can clog your units and affect performance. Always follow the instructions given to you regarding cleaning your hearing aids and your ears.
It’s quick and easy to clean your ears, and important to do so properly to avoid injury and possible hearing loss. Daily cleaning is not necessary to maintain healthy ears.