Earwax is natural and helps to keep the ear clean. It should not be removed unless under the guidance of a health professional. Earwax only needs to be removed if it causes pain, blocks hearing or if a professional needs to see the eardrum. After earwax removal, hearing assessment is recommended.
Earwax is designed to:
- repel water
- stop the ear canal from getting dry and itchy by keeping the skin moist
- protect the ear from infection
- trap dust and germs – keeping them from reaching the eardrum
Often, softening the earwax so that it can come out on its own is enough. Olive oil is cheap and easy to use. It can be bought from a chemist along with a dropper bottle. Below is the ear softening flowchart:
Visit Audiologist/GP for Ear Examination – evidence of impacted wax in ear canal
Olive oil (stored at room temperature) – use dropper to place 2 drops in ear canal twice a day for a week. Have head tilted at 45 degrees and stay in position for a few minutes. Do NOT use cotton wool in ear after drops as it will absorb them. If using on children, this can be done whilst they are asleep.
Revisit Audiologist/GP for further Ear Examination after a week. If unsuccessful, after a week trial another softening agent, e.g., Earol, sodium bicarbonate drops
N.B. There is no evidence to confirm one wax softening agent to superior to another. Olive oil is often chosen as it known to be less of an irritant so is often the first choice of product. Sodium bicarbonate drops can sometimes be irritating to the skin in the ear and may also ‘fizz’ which can worry some children so please seek advice before using these drops on youngsters.
Other Earwax Treatments
If ear drops do not work then the ear can be:
- Irrigated (washed out professionally)
- Micro suctioned (suctioned out professionally)
- Picked out by a professional with special equipment
Do NOT use ‘Earwax Candles’ to clear earwax. Attempting to remove earwax in any other way is unsafe and can make the problem worse. Our ears are designed to clean themselves and protect the delicate parts inside so if you try to “clean” your ears yourself you risk causing injury or infection. The use of cotton buds interrupts the ear’s own cleaning process, risking injuring to the delicate skin in the ear canal or making a hole in the eardrum. It also risks pushing any wax deeper in the ear.