Video: How to remove earwax
Cerumen (more commonly know as earwax) protects the ear from dust, dirt, hair and skin irritation, and lowers the risk of infection. But sometimes this wax builds up in the ear and blocks the ear canal, causing :
- Hearing loss
- Ear aches
Earwax is best removed by a doctor
Doctors have a variety of methods for removing ear wax:
- Using small curved instruments called curets
- Suction whilst inspecting the ear
- Flushing the wax out using a water pick or syringe filled with warm water
- Wax-removal medications
Do not dig earwax out with foreign objects or a cotton bud as you can push the wax deeper into the ear canal, or damage the canal or eardrum.
Do not attempt ear candling or ear coning – research has shown it doesn’t work and can cause burns, ear canal obstructions or perforations.
Try using a few drops of warm water, olive oil or 1:1 ratio of water and hydrogen peroxide to soften the wax.
- Use a damp cotton ball to apply the drops
- Tilt head and point affected ear upward for several minutes
- This will allow the drops to soften the wax blockage
- Then tilt head down to allow the fluid and earwax to drain from the affected ear
Visit your doctor if you have a regular buildup of ear wax.
Last Reviewed: 24/07/2019
Earwax is quite harmless and a normal part of the body's self-protection mechanism. Earwax can be various colours from light yellow through to brown. Producing a lot of earwax is not a sign of poor hygiene.
Common ear problems include otitis media, glue ear, ear wax and swimmer's ear.
Ear problems: self-care
Common ear problems include otitis media and glue ear (which mostly affect children), ear wax build-up and swimmer's ear (otitis externa). Find out what products are available for ear problems.
Eardrum perforation can be caused by infection, a blow to the ear, injury from an object inserted in the ear, or exposure to a sudden loud noise.
Swimmer's ear (otitis externa)
Swimmer's ear - an infection of the outer ear canal - occurs when the skin lining the ear canal is wet for long periods.