Black Earwax – Causes & Treatment

What Does Black Earwax Mean?

There are not many people who talk about earwax with their physician the way it should be discussed. Very few people know that the color and texture of the earwax can help a physician understand the health status of a person. Earwax is medically termed as cerumen. It is constituted of fatty acids and alcohols that function by preventing the ear from getting infected. Earwax also protects the ear by preventing certain external substances like water, shampoo, dirt and debris, and other environmental allergens from entering the ear.[1]

Earwax is naturally produced in the body. It is generally yellow in color but at times the color of the earwax changes and is seldom a cause for concern. The causes due to which the earwax turns black in most cases are benign and easily preventable. Read below to know in detail the causes of Black Earwax and different ways to manage it.[1]

What Causes Black Earwax?

What Causes Black Earwax?

The primary cause of Black Earwax is the accumulation or excessive buildup of cerumen. This happens when the ear is not cleaned for long periods of time. Research suggests that Black Earwax is seen mostly in the adult population and especially in males. With age, the earwax becomes dry and is not able to clean the ear canal as quickly as it is supposed to. This leads to earwax buildup thereby changing its color to black.[2]

Some of the other causes of Black Ear Wax include:

Foreign Objects: People who frequently use ear buds, ear pods, or have a hearing aid inserted have increased likelihood of getting black earwax. This is because these objects tend to push the earwax further into the ear and not allow them to come out resulting in accumulation of earwax which over time becomes black in color.[2]

Compressed Earwax: People who frequently clean the ear using cotton balls or other object compress the earwax. This results in them accumulating within the ears and becoming black in color. In addition to black earwax, there will be additional symptoms like pain in the ears, hearting dysfunction, and dizziness.[2]

How to Treat Black Earwax?

Black earwax seldom requires any definitive treatment. In many cases, home remedies are good enough to clear the wax. Only if these remedies are ineffective then a consultation with a physician is recommended. The physician will look for any underlying medical conditions that may be causing the cerumen to have a change of color.

The physician may then opt for irrigation of the ar and clear out the accumulated earwax. Suctioning of the accumulated cerumen is yet another way to deal with black earwax.[2]

Black Earwax is an absolutely benign condition and is completely harmless. As stated, there are certain home remedies which in most cases are effective enough to manage the condition. However, people who have a perforated eardrum should first contact their healthcare provided before embarking on any of the home remedies mentioned.

Some of the home remedies to deal with Black Ear Wax include[2]

Ear Irrigation: This is quite an effective home remedy to clear black earwax. Ear irrigation can be done using warm water, hydrogen peroxide or even essential oils. The individual just needs to fill a rubber syringe with warm water and a mixture of essential oil or hydrogen peroxide. Now tilt the head such that the affected ear is facing upwards.[2] Now insert the syringe near to the opening of the ear canal and push the liquid within the canal and drain the liquid out after a couple of seconds. The liquid that comes out of the ear will carry the accumulated wax with it. Repeat the process for a few days till the time all the black earwax completely drains off.[2]

Ear Drops: Using over the counter ear drops for clearing accumulated earwax is yet another safe and effective way to get rid of black earwax. Some of the over the counter ear drops for this purpose are hydrogen peroxide, essential oils, and eardrop solutions. When this solution reaches the area where there is buildup of cerumen, the liquid is then absorbed by the earwax and makes it soft.[2] Once the accumulated wax becomes soft it is much easier for it to be removed.

Some of the measures people can take to prevent buildup of earwax in the ear are that they should avoid cleaning ears with long objects. It is best to avoid ear buds or objects that need to be inserted within the ear to clean cerumen as all these can cause the compression of the earwax. In rare cases, a medication is prescribed to make the earwax moist so that it can be removed easily by the physician to get rid of Black Earwax.[2]

References:

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