Why You're (Probably) Cleaning Your Ears Wrong
Ear wax can be a bit… gross. It’s brown and clumpy and sticky and - nothing good. So it makes sense that guys want to clean that gunk out of their ears… right?
Maybe. Before you jump to conclusions and start drilling cotton swabs into your ears, learn a bit more about what ear wax is - and how to clean it out properly. Most guys will be surprised to find that they’re cleaning their ears all wrong.
What Is Ear Wax?
Ear wax is produced by your body to lubricate, protect, and clean out your inner ear. When dirt, bacteria, and other debris enter your ear, they get stuck to ear wax and are prevented from going further in where they could cause damage or illness. Your body is constantly producing new ear wax, pushing out the old wax, and cleaning your ears from the inside out.
Ear wax is naturally removed as new wax (called cerumen) is produced. It can also fall out on its own or get washed away when you shower.
What If I Have Too Much Ear Wax? How Should I Clean It Out?
If you feel like your ears are clogged or that you need to get wax out of them, follow this gentle cleaning procedure.
- Wash the outside of your ear with a washcloth and warm water.
- Use an eye dropper to put 4-5 drops of baby oil or hydrogen peroxide into your ear canal.
- Massage the cartilage of your ear to move the drops around and ensure they cover the entire surface of your inner ear.
- Wait 10 minutes.
- Use an eye dropper to put 4-5 drops of warm water into your ear canal. Tilt your head in the opposite direction to let the water, wax, and any other debris run out.
You’ll notice there’s no mention of putting cotton swabs, toothpicks, car keys, or your fingers into your ears. With good reason! Many guys cause serious problems for their ears by jamming small objects in them and trying to get rid of wax. What could happen?
What Is Ear Wax Impaction?
Impaction occurs when too much ear wax builds up or when you push the ear wax back into your inner ear while trying to clean it out. Ear wax impaction causes ear pain, itching, reduced hearing, ringing in the ears, cough, and ear odor.
If you suspect you may have impaction, visit your doctor. They can do a quick physical examination to figure out what the problem is. From there they can recommend ways to remove the impaction and help you avoid a recurrence of this frustrating problem.
What Not to Do
Again, doctors recommend against using cotton swabs or other small objects to dig out your ear wax. There’s a high likelihood you could cause ear wax impaction or do damage to your ear drum.
The FDA has also come out against ear candling as a method for cleaning your ears. There is no evidence to prove its supposed benefits and it carries a risk of ear damage. The
Here’s what the American Academy of Otolaryngology has to say:
"You may see some earwax come out on a cotton swab, bobby pin, paperclip, or other item you put in your ear canal, but you are really only pushing earwax back into your ear, which may cause problems. Putting things in your ears irritates them. You can also injure your ear by putting a hole in an eardrum, cutting or scratching the ear canal skin, or even causing an ear infection."
"Don’t use ear candles. Ear candles do not remove earwax and can cause serious damage to the ear canal and drum."
They also recommend not over-cleaning your ears since “too much cleaning may bother your ear canal, cause infection, and may even increase the chances of earwax impaction.”
How to Keep Your Ears Clean
If you follow a good skincare routine for men and shower regularly, your ears will naturally clean themselves out. Instead of stressing about your ears, take care of your hair and skin in the shower with a natural all in one wash for men.