Cerumen, or ear wax, is generally regarded as “dirt” and many people try to get rid of it using cotton swabs. What they ignore is that by using this method, they increase the risk of infection. How to clean the ears properly and safely?
What is earwax?
Cerumen, commonly known as ear wax, is a natural substance secreted by the ears. It has antibacterial properties that allow the ear to clean and protect against various bacteria and pathogens. Earwax also plays an important role in lubricating the ear canal. By moving towards the opening of the ear, it can get rid of all the dirt, dust and particles accumulated in the ear canal. With movements of the jaw, it is expelled out of the ear.
But sometimes an overproduction of wax can occur and cause more or less annoying and uncomfortable symptoms. Because of stress, fear or anxiety, ceruminous glands can increase production and cause the appearance of the following:
Itching inside the ear
A feeling of fullness
Dizziness or buzzing
A decrease in hearing
To eliminate the discomfort caused by these symptoms and remove the excess earwax, many people resort to cotton swab. But this process having a harmless appearance is very dangerous for your ears.
What are the dangers of the cotton swabs?
Using a cotton swab or other sharp object to clean your ears or to relieve itching is not the best thing to do. Indeed, by inserting a cotton swab, you move the wax to the bottom of the ear, pushing the same time all the dirt and bacteria in the ear canal. So you block your ear canal, you apply pressure on your eardrum and increase the risk of infections. Furthermore, a wrong move could cause a perforation of the eardrum, and even cause hearing loss.
According to an American study, 3.5% of people using cotton swab to clean the ears damage their eardrum.
How to clean the ears?
In general, the ears are able to clean themselves and do not require any intervention on our part. But if you have a plug of wax or itching due to earwax buildup in your ear canal, here is a simple and effective trick to try.
Alcohol and vinegar remedy against excessive ear wax and ear infections:
½ teaspoon of rubbing alcohol
½ teaspoon of white vinegar
½ teaspoon water
Mix the three ingredients, then turn your head to the side and add 5 drops of the mixture in your ear, with a medicine dropper. Keep still for 1 to 2 minutes to allow the solution to wet the wax plug and facilitate its removal. Then, raise your head and tilt it to remove the earwax. Repeat the same process with the other ear.
You can apply this trick once a day.
Rubbing alcohol is a cleaner and effective disinfectant that will help you get around 85% of pathogenic bacteria in the ear canal. As for white vinegar, it has powerful antibiotics and antibacterial properties that help to treat infections and prevent their appearance.
If after three days, you don’t notice improvement, it is recommended to stop using this remedy and seek medical advice.