Do you often feel discomfort in your ear? Does it feel like it is congested and stuffed to the brim? Well if you do, then it could be a problem of earwax accumulation. Earwax buildup is a very common issue, affecting a wide range of population regardless of age and gender. And quite contrary to the popular belief it doesn’t really indicate poor hygiene. In fact, some people are naturally prone to excessive production of ear wax. Regardless, it leaves a tingling sensation in the ear and at the same time creates an unignorable urge to remove it. In order to get relief, you usually end up poking your ear with fingers, cotton buds or something else. Even though it might provide you with some relief, it does not serve the purpose of complete removal of earwax. On the contrary, it can be dangerous to your inner ear health and safety.

But do not fret if you do not have the right solutions yet. Here, you will be learning safe and effective ways to remove earwax along with all the necessary precautions and side effects of each method. So, go through the whole article once and pick the one, whichever method, you feel comfortable with.

(Read more: Blocked ear, symptoms, causes, treatment)

  1. Why earwax accumulation causes discomfort
  2. Home remedies for earwax removal
  3. Ear care after earwax removal
  4. What not to do for earwax removal

Well to begin let’s learn a bit about our ear and in particular, the ear canal. Ear canal is composed of hair follicles and glands. These glands secrete earwax, also known as cerumen, to trap dirt and infectious microbes in order to protect the ear.

Usually, this earwax or other secretions make their way outside and fall out or get removed while washing or bathing. But sometimes when the earwax gets continuously or excessively secreted and does not get cleaned up naturally, it starts accumulating and that’s when the problems begin. You may start feeling a heaviness inside your ear, hear noises and in some cases, even feel acute pain.

(Read more: Ear pain, symptoms, causes, treatment)

Not to frighten you but are you aware of the fact that earwax buildup is one of the most common causes of hearing loss? No? Well, it is and now, you can imagine the importance of removing earwax. Now that we have established the damage it can cause let us start learning how to treat and even prevent it in the first place. Importantly, all the methods that are discussed in this article can be performed at home.

Dive in and explore all the effective ways of removing ear wax that can be done without professional help or supervision.

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The reality is that mild to a moderate buildup of earwax can easily be removed at home by using different methods and easily available materials. Home remedies can be a safer option if performed with utmost care and caution. Although, it is always better if you have seen someone removing earwax earlier at home or at a professional setup.

Washcloth or facial tissue for earwax removal

The easiest and simplest way of removing ear wax from the outer ear canal is by using washcloths and facial wipes, If the collected wax is less in amount and not adhered tightly to the ear canal, this should be your first approach in an attempt to remove ear wax at home.

Here is how you should proceed to remove ear wax by this method:

  • Take a washcloth or facial tissue
  • Damp it in warm water and squeeze the excess water out
  • Wrap it around your finger preferably double or triple layered, make sure your nails are properly cut and trimmed
  • Put it inside your ear and gently remove the earwax and dirt that are trying to fall out of the canal

Oil for earwax removal

Oil is not just meant for cooking or massage. It can effectively remove earwax too. You know that oils have lubricating properties, right? It's this specific property which aids the removal of ear wax. The working mechanism behind it is: oil softens the ear wax and helps in its removal out of the ear canal.

Oils that you can use:

How to use?

  • Pick any of the aforementioned oils and put 2 to 3 drops of the oil inside the concerned ear
  • Lie down on the bed in a way that the ear with oil faces upwards
  • Wait for 5 to 10 minutes to let the oil do its work
  • Oil will soften the wax and make it fall outside
  • After 10 minutes, get up and clean the ear using a washcloth or facial tissues

How often should you use?

  • Keep doing this two times per day for at least 2 days or until all the wax gets cleared up.

Precautions to take:

  • While opting for oils to remove ear wax, some people might feel a slight burning sensation in the ear, but if you feel pain, stop using oil and consult a doctor for further checkup and removal

Glycerin for earwax removal

Another useful way to remove earwax without going to a doctor is by using glycerin. This is something that can be found very easily on the dressing table in most homes as it used for the purpose of moisturisation. Glycerin is often used in various commercial ear drops as an active ingredient. It works in the same way as ear drops do, by loosening the hard plugged wax and expelling it out of the ear canal.

The correct way to use glycerin for removing ear wax is given below. Follow these steps to get rid of ear wax at home:

  • Put 2 to 3 drops of glycerin into the affected ear
  • Rest for 5 to 10 minute patiently on the bed in a way that glycerin loaded ear faces the ceiling
  • Let the glycerin do its work
  • After 10 minutes, clean your ear as well as the unabsorbed glycerin, which will come out with the wax

How often should you use it?

  • Repeat the procedure two times every day until all the accumulated wax gets cleaned up.

Hydrogen peroxide for earwax removal

Just like glycerine, hydrogen peroxide is also an important ingredient in ear drops. In fact, it is frequently used by professionals to clean the earwax. Many doctors also use hydrogen peroxide to remove wax buildup in your ear. Several studies indicate that hydrogen peroxide containing ear drops could be an effective home remedy for ear wax removal.

However, you need to be cautious while using this ingredient. Here is the correct procedure to use it:

How to use it?

  • Take a cotton ball and dip it in the hydrogen peroxide solution
  • Put 2 to 3 drops of hydrogen peroxide in the ear by squeezing the cotton ball gently just above your ear opening
  • Keep your concerned rear facing upward, let gravity do its work by pulling the solution inside the hardened wax so that it becomes loose and can flow out.
  • Now, tilt your head just opposite to the earlier position and the wax will come out of the ear along with the extra solution
  • Hopefully, your ear will be free of wax and find instant ease

Ear irrigation for earwax removal

There is one more way to remove the earwax washing it out with a stream of water. Water has the capacity to flush out the waste, be it earwax or undigested food from your intestine, it is a versatile liquid. The correct method when it comes to using water/steam is as follows:

How to use it?

  • Take a cup of water at room temperature
  • Keep your head straight
  • Now, straighten the ear canal by pulling your external ear slightly upwards
  • Take a syringe (easily available at stores), fill it with water
  • Gently, inject the water inside the ear so that the stream enters deep into the ear canal
  • Tilt your head away so that the irrigated ear faces downward and all the water and wax flows out
  • You have to repeat the whole process several times for complete removal of plugged wax

Precaution you need to take

  • Do not irrigate your ear with a jet irrigator or waterjet meant for tooth cleaning
  • Never attempt to remove ear wax by using irrigation or any other method, if you have a hole in the eardrum or have had recent ear surgery
  • After removal of earwax by any of the abovementioned method, remember to dry the ear by using a clean washcloth (or facial tissues) wrapped around your fingers. Do it a few times to clean it thoroughly.
  • You can pour a few drops of alcohol in the ear to dry the outer ear canal or use a hair dryer directed towards ear at very low speed, keeping it a few inches away from your war.
  • Ear moisturisation is also a necessary step to avoid wax from drying (this ultimately lead to the formation of the hard plug). It can be done by using mineral oil.
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So now you know the things that should be taken care of in order to maintain your ear functioning normal and effective. Here are some of ‘don’ts’ that you need to eliminate and prevent in order to keep your ears healthy and functioning properly:

Avoid ear candling

Have you heard about ear candles? If yes, never encourage yourself to use it. Ear candles consist of hollow cones made up of fabric soaked in various wax. Sellers claims that the warmth of the ear candle generates suction through the hollow cone and sucks the wax and other impurities out of the ear canal. It seems like a heroic way to get rid of earwax, but is not an approved method and can be risky for your health or even affect your hearing capacity.

Food and Drug Authority (FDA) discourages its use and warns consumers about its side effects.

Here is a list of risks associated with the use of an ear candle:

  • Bleeding from the ear canal
  • Face and ear burn
  • Starting a possible fire
  • Injury to the eardrum or inner ear by dripping hot wax
  • Further plugging of the ear by candle wax
  • Hole in eardrum

Avoid poking ear

  • Most people have a tendency to put fingers inside their ears and shake it vigorously to unplug the wax. This should never be encouraged
  • Never use any sharp objects like a pencil or pen to clean the build up. They might create a hole in your eardrum, damaging it permanently
  • Don't use cotton buds or swabs to clean your ear as it might hurt your eardrum and can push the plugged wax deeper rather than pulling it out

Don't overdo ear cleaning

Your earwax is a protective barrier for your ear, to keep it clean and prevent ear infections. Trying to remove earwax frequently can hamper the normal ear functions. So, keeping your ear health in mind, don't overdo ear cleaning. In fact, it is best to limit the cleaning up to outer ear only.

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