You may have seen people clean their ears with cotton swabs. If you are wondering if you too should be doing it, the answer is yes, but with caution. Read on to know more about why cleaning your ears gently should be a part of your hygiene regime –
What is Earwax?
You may often feel the presence of a foreign object in your ears. It may make the insides of your ears itch and when you scratch your ears tiny pieces of congealed dirt may be dislodged. This is earwax. Your ears produce a waxy matter called cerumen. It coats your ears to prevent them from becoming dry and flaky. More importantly, cerumen, with the tiny hairs inside your ears, traps all the dirt and foreign particles and do not allow them to enter your delicate inner ears. When the dirt and grime accumulate, it forms chunky lumps of earwax.
Why should you clean your Ears?
Generally, earwax is self-cleaning. When you chew your food, your jaws move and this movement forces the tiny pieces of earwax out. But, some people have very stubborn wax that clings to the skin of their ears. If the earwax keeps building up, it will lead to a condition called cerumen impaction and it will eventually block your ear canal. What will follow are hearing problems and a strange ringing in your ears- a condition called tinnitus.
Sometimes when earwax sticks to the skin and you scratch it, it can hurt and even bleed. If this continues, wounds will develop and if you are not aware of their existence, the wounds could get infected.
In the worst-case scenario, your eardrum may rupture and that will cause temporary or permanent hearing loss. That is why it is vital that you clean out your ears from time to time. If earwax accumulation is a persistent problem, then consult a doctor.
How to go about cleaning your Ears?
Now that you know why you should clean your ears, it is equally important that you know how to do it.
- Earwax can harden. If you try to tugging or scraping it, it may cause bleeding. So, the best course of action would be to first soften it with lubricant. You can use baby oil or glycerine. The oil will make the earwax yield.
- Use soft cotton swabs or buds for ear-cleaning. Gently swirl it inside your ears. It will collect the wax and scrub the skin clean.
Here are a few things you should NOT be doing-
- Never plunge a sharp object like the tip of a pen or a safety pin inside your ears. They might puncture your eardrum.
- Even when you are using cotton swabs, be tender. Don’t shove it in because that might just push the wax in deeper.
Finally, if none of these techniques works out, your doctor will use a syringe and warm water to irrigate your ears.
Earwax can be quite a nuisance. They can lead to a number of complications too unless you clean them up periodically.