What is Earwax Good For?
Earwax or Cerumen (medical term) is sticky, wet and dirty and considered very disgusting by many people. However, not many people understand that earwax is actually a blessing in disguise. Earwax is a naturally occurring substance in the outer ear and is a combination of sweat, oil, dirt and dead skin cells. Earwax acts as a guard to the ear canal by stopping all the harmful materials and even insects from entering and damaging the ear and our hearing. There are a number of positive sides to earwax.
How & Why is Earwax Important to Us?
- Earwax acts as a natural barrier to dirt and bacteria, keeping the innermost parts of the ear safe and sound.
- Earwax acts as a moisturizer and a protective coating for the ear canal, without which the outer part of the ear would be dry, itchy and flaky thus putting the ear at a greater risk of being infected.
- Not only humans but insects are repelled by earwax too, and therefore earwax acts as a healthy natural insect repellant for your ears.
Best Ways to Remove Earwax at Home
The mechanism of human ears is such that they are self-cleansing. Once earwax has accumulated in the ear, it slowly makes its way through the ear canal to the opening of the ear, and then eventually either falls out or gets removed when you clean your ears. Though this mechanism works perfectly, but sometimes the earwax is stubborn enough to not move from it place and causes discomfort and irritation. In such a case, it is easy to clean earwax at home by yourself. Some of the ways to remove the earwax at home are:
Saline Water to Clean Earwax at Home
One of the best ways to remove earwax at home is to use the salt water solution to soften the accumulated earwax, so that it is easy to remove the earwax from the ear. Mix a teaspoon of salt in half-a-cup of warm water to prepare a solution suitable for cleaning earwax. Dip a cotton ball into the solution, tilt the head with the affected ear facing the sky and squeeze 2-3 drops of the solution into the ear. Give it a little rest and then turn the head towards the other side after 3-4 minutes and wait for gravity to do its job. After a while, clean the outer part of the ear with a soft wash cloth to wipe the softened earwax. This is one of the easiest methods to clean earwax at home.
Another one of the simpler methods to clean or drain out the excess earwax at home is warm water, which works well enough. The gentle force of the warm water helps in dislodging the ear wax, making it easier to remove. Though this is an effective method, but only filtered or clean water should be used for cleaning earwax at home. To make the warm water effective in cleaning the ear, fill a syringe with warm water (body temperature), tilt the head to a side and put a little amount of the warm water into the affected ear. Then flip the head to the other side to let the accumulated earwax drain out. Clean the ear with a clean cloth and repeat the same procedure on the other ear if needed.
Another very effective method of removing the accumulated earwax at home is the use of hydrogen peroxide. Used for a number of other purposes also, hydrogen peroxide prevents the formation of harmful free radicals. When it comes to ear wax, it is the effervescent property of hydrogen peroxide that makes it so effective in breaking down the stuck particles of the earwax and hence removing it successfully from the ear canal. To use this chemical for removal of earwax at home, combine equal parts of hydrogen peroxide with water to prepare a solution. Fill a dropper with this solution and insert some drops into the ear by tilting the head sideways. Leave it for a little while (15 minutes) and then tilt the head in the opposite direction to let the solution drain out. The accumulated earwax gets loosened and the drains out with the hydrogen peroxide solution. Wipe the earwax with a clean cloth and you are good to go.
Baby Oil/Mineral Oil to Clean Earwax at Home
The basic property or function of these oils is to soften the earwax to help remove it easily from the ear. Again to clean the ear with this oil at home, fill a dropper with baby or mineral oil, tilt the ear towards the sky and put two to five drops of the oil into the ear. To stop the oil from oozing out of the ear, you can block the ear canal using a cotton ball. Leave the same for a few minutes and then tilt the head in the opposite direction to drain out the extra oil and the softened earwax. Clean the opening of the ear with a soft cloth to remove the remaining earwax. If required repeat the same procedure with the other ear also. Using baby oil or mineral oil is yet another easy method of cleaning ear wax at home.
Vinegar & Rubbing Alcohol
One of the oldest methods of cleaning ears, this method is a reliable way of removing the earwax. For this purpose either white vinegar or apple cider vinegar may be used in combination with rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) to clean the earwax at home. The alcohol in the mixture helps in drying off the ear, whereas the vinegar fights off bacteria and fungi effectively. Since the alcohol acts as a drying agent, this method is effective in treating a swimmer’s ear too. To make a solution for cleaning the ears at home, combine equal parts of rubbing alcohol and vinegar in a bowl and dip a cotton ball into this solution. Now, flip the head to a side to make the ear face upwards and squeeze two to three drops of this solution into the ear with the accumulated earwax. Wait for a little over five minutes and then tilt the head to the other side to facilitate the draining of the earwax. Finally, remove the earwax from the outer canal of the ear using a clean soft cloth. So you can see how easy it is to clean the earwax at home by yourself.
So, you can see with the abovementioned simple methods you can easily clean earwax at home. However, if the earwax is very stubborn or hard and does not get cleaned or removed at home with the above remedies, then you should consult an ENT doctor for removing the earwax. Never ever use sharp objects to clean earwax and always practice caution and hygiene when using the above methods for cleaning earwax at home.
- “Earwax: What You Need to Know” – Harvard Health Publishing Source: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/earwax-what-you-need-to-know
- “Earwax and Care” – American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery Source: https://www.enthealth.org/conditions/earwax-and-care/
- “Earwax Buildup and Blockage” – Mayo Clinic Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/earwax-blockage/symptoms-causes/syc-20353004