Doctors Warn About the Dangers of Poking at Earwax with Q-tips


While some people believe earwax as an indication of uncleanliness, doctors strongly recommend against using Q-tips or ear candling to remove cerumen.

While some people believe earwax as an indication of uncleanliness, health care providers strongly recommend against using Q-tips or ear candling to remove cerumen. The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) says that people who use these methods to get rid of the earwax most often than not end up damaging the ear drum or causing irritation to the hearing canal.

In order to raise awareness on the harmful practice, the AAO-HNS rolled out updated guidelines for diagnosing and ultimately treating earwax at home, as well as recommendations for healthier ear care. The chair of the guideline group, Seth Schwartz, M.D., says that misinformation, as far as proper ear care is concerned, leads to hazardous ear health habits, such as picking at the cerumen with Q-tips, bobby pins, cotton swabs, hairpins, or even toothpicks.

Doctor’s Advice

Family physician, Jennifer Caudle, who is also an assistant professor at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine also rules in favor of the new guidelines. She says that her mentor taught her that nothing smaller than one’s elbow should go in the year. Also, Jennifer Caudle says that if something, the gooey substance in our years actually prevents bugs from going in, fights off infections, and keeps dust particles away. Clearing the wax barrier makes a subject more prone to infections and bacteria, she adds.

Furthermore, in case there is too much cerumen, the earwax usually migrates out of the ear canal on its own.  However, should the self-cleaning process fail, doctors can always clear the ear canal. Wax buildup may result in itching, ear pain, ringing in the ears, a sensation of fullness in the ear, or even temporary hearing loss. Nevertheless, individuals suffering from these symptoms could use earwax removal products to treat the affection at home.

Doctor’s advice: do not overclean the ears. As odd as it may sound to some people, removing the cerumen could lead to irritations of the ear canal, infections, and even an increase in the changes of cerumen impaction. On the other hand, drainage, intense ear pain, or bleeding do not represent symptoms of cerumen impaction. Hence, doctors recommend people displaying these symptoms to seek medical help as soon as possible. Alternatively, people can ask their health care providers about safe ways to treat cerumen impaction at home.

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About Cliff Jenkins Scott

Cliff likes to describe himself as made for the hard road. Freelancing is taking off across the world. And yet, valuable opportunities are hard to find he thinks, particularly when it comes to writing. After graduating with an MA degree in Communication as a major and Technology and Writing as minors, Cliff decided to give his own website hosting creative writing a boost and engage in an overwhelming number of projects, all of them focused on writing. He didn’t look for a quick burnout, but his eagerness to learn as much as possible as rapidly as possible kept him going.