Myths: Do not push out ear wax: Do not use cotton swabs

Clean ears with cotton swabs? Poking around doesn't help
Otolaryngologists almost pray: "Please don't use cotton swabs to clean your ears." And yet millions use the chopsticks to remove the wax. But that is exactly wrong and can even have serious consequences. We show the alternatives.

Ear wax fulfills important functions
Ear wax is a body's own secretion, which serves the body's own self-cleaning of the ears. It ensures that the skin in the ear canal remains supple and the protective acid mantle is maintained. This way fewer germs can penetrate. Ear wax is yellowish-brown in color and has a bitter taste and is formed in specialized sebaceous glands in the external auditory canal.

The cleaning actually takes place all by itself, in that excess ear wax is transported from the ear canal into the outer ear cup through tiny hairs. But many people try to help with cotton swabs. It's usually not a good idea.

Cotton swabs are not intended for ear cleaning
Warnings such as "Not suitable for ear cleaning" have been added to the packs, but many continue to poke. This often leads to an appointment with an ear doctor. Karin Kippenhahn, an established ear, nose and throat doctor in Zehlendorf, told Berlin's “Tagesspiegel”: “I always see patients with injuries to the ear canal or the eardrum due to cotton swabs. You put the stick in your ear, and if you startle, for example, it happens. ”Cleaning the ears with cotton swabs is an illusion anyway. As the newspaper writes, the physiognomy of the stick makes it impossible to effectively extract the wax from the ear canal.

Ear plug with consequences
But why is the stick uncomfortably discolored when it is pulled out of the ear again? "Only the ear wax that was sitting at the front of the ear canal sticks to the cotton ball," says Kippenhahn. But in the deeper regions, the stick does the opposite: instead of removing the wax, it is pushed deeper into the ear and pressed down. This can sometimes lead to the formation of a plug in the ear, which can lead to impaired hearing, pressure, earache, itching, ringing in the ears and dizziness.

Ear canal cleans itself when eating
As a rule, the ear canal cleans itself - while eating. As the "Tagesspiegel" writes, the ear wax slides outward when chewing because the temporomandibular joint is in contact with the external auditory canal. Therefore, except in special cases, there is no medical reason to insert an object into the ear for cleaning purposes. It is usually sufficient to occasionally remove the wax from the ear with your finger and a damp washcloth or facial tissue. Or you can let some warm water run into your ear while showering, without shampoo or soap, and then dry the ear cups well.

Sometimes professional ear cleaning makes sense
For some people who have a very narrow ear canal or whose ear wax has dried up, the natural self-cleaning mechanism may not be sufficient. In such cases, professional ear cleaning from an ENT doctor can help. Those affected should best discuss with their doctor how often such treatment should be given. Some people also use ear candle therapy to clean the ear canal. However, this is primarily for relaxation. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Excessive Ear Wax: Tips for Safe Removal (September 2020).