Did you know that your ears are self-cleaning? It may seem a bit counter-intuitive, but you can clean your ears too often and remove too much earwax. Why? Because earwax is the vehicle your ears use to keep dirt and debris away from your eardrum. When you talk or chew, earwax naturally migrates out the ear canal to the outer ear, taking debris with it. For most people, a gentle cleaning once or twice a week is enough. Here are a few tips on how to clean your ears.
SIMPLE IS BEST
Perhaps the easiest way to clean your ears is to use a washcloth. Wipe the damp cloth around your outer ear and gently near the ear canal. This should remove any wax that has moved to the outer ear. If you feel as if you have an excess amount of earwax, you can use warm water, mineral oil, baby oil, or hydrogen peroxide to help soften it up. Use an eye/ear dropper to put just a few drops in your ear canal, allow it to soak and then tilt your head to drain it out slowly. Because earwax is water soluble, any extra wax will flow out with the liquid.
AVOID QUESTIONABLE HOME “REMEDIES”
Have you heard of ear candling? It’s touted as a way to remove earwax and impurities from your ears. However, it’s extremely dangerous and does not work. The process involves using a lighted hollow cone made out of waxed fabric to supposedly draw out any contaminants from your ears. There is no reason to have a flame and hot wax near your ears! It’s also dangerous to use hairpins, pen caps, keys and even cotton swabs inside your ear canal. These things can actually push earwax back into the ear, leading to painful impactions.
PROBLEM? SEE YOUR AUDIOLOGIST
If you do have an impaction, sounds seem muffled or you have pain, it’s time to see your audiologist. These professionals have better methods of removing earwax that will not damage your ear. The most common methods used to remove earwax impactions involve a tool called a curette and irrigation. The curette is a device with a small scoop on the end to gather earwax. Irrigation involves a tool that squirts water into the ear canal to break up a blockage. Your audiologist may also recommend eardrops or an at-home syringe product to clear away excess earwax.
Knowing how to clean your ears properly isn’t difficult. For the most part, the safest, most effective way is to allow nature to run its course. Ear cleaning is a simple process that occurs on its own. All you have to do is a quick wipe of the outer ear with a washcloth a couple of times a week to take care of any earwax that has exited the ear canal. A cotton swab may be used on the outer ear only, to clear any additional debris.