7 Dos and Don’ts of Ear Cleaning
We’ve all done it at one time or another: Reach for a cotton bud, pen lid, or bobby pin and mine our ear for wax. While this gives a short term satisfaction it is from beneficial to your ear health and liable be harmful in the long term.
With that is mind, just how should you keep your ear clean? Indeed, should you clean them at all? To answer these and other pressing question here are our top 7 dos and don’ts about ear cleaning.
1. Do know when to clean
Not all ears need cleaning. The ear has a highly effective natural cleaning mechanism which brings excess wax up to the surface. Often it’s enough after a shower to wipe this excess away with a clean facecloth.
However, if you wear earbud headphones for long periods of time, this can plug the ear and prevent natural wax removal. Likewise if your hearing becomes dull or you have itchy ears this could be a sign your ear canal is full of wax. Also, some people produce very dry wax or excessive amounts, which can warrant regular cleaning.
2. Don’t clean too frequently
Too much of a good thing (over enthusiastic cleaning) can strip the ear canal of protective oils and dehydrate the delicate lining. This leaves the ear vulnerable to infections and ear disease.
On average cleaning every two to four weeks is sufficient, unless otherwise directed by your physician or audiologist.
3. Be gentle when cleaning
Less is more when it comes to ear cleaning. Using forceful irrigation can act like a water cannon and blast fluid deep into the ear and possibly rupture the eardrum. A much better strategy is to use an effective softening product and give it a few minutes to work.
4. Don’t use gimmicky treatments
Procedures such as ear candling are hugely popular, but of little benefit. The idea is a lighted, hollow wax candle is placed into the ear canal where it draws a vacuum and sucks out the wax. In reality this does not happen and the convincing-looking lumps of wax that are removed actually come from the candle rather than your ears.
In addition there’s a risk of hot wax burning the ear canal or damaging the eardrum.
5. Do use softening oils
A few drops of a commercial softening treatment, mineral oil, or baby oil are all it takes to soften your earwax and help it up to the surface. Do one ear at a time, resting with the ear canal facing the ceiling. After five minutes tip your head over and wipe away the excess. Repeat on the other side.
6. Don’t insert cotton swabs into the canal
These ram wax deeper into the ear, causing it to impact. It is safe to utilize cotton swabs to clean the outside parts of your ear, simply use it to wipe loose earwax and debris free.
7. Do consult a hearing care provider
If you have pain or experience hearing difficulties always consult a hearing healthcare professional such as your physician or audiologist.