Cleaning your ears

Many people believe that ear cleaning is part of routine hygiene maintenance.  However, other than cleaning the outside of your ears with a washcloth, ears are best left alone.

Ears are self-cleaning-they are the only part of the body in which the skin grows in a direction, and brings the wax and skin debris out from the canal to the outer ear.  Ear wax(cerumen) protects the skin in the ear canal by lubricating.

Cotton swabs(Q-tips) should NEVER be placed in the ear canal.  If there is a significant amount of cerumen, the swab will just push the wax closer to the eardrum, impacting it.  Using a Q-tip can scratch the ear canal and cause bleeding.  In some cases, the swab is pushed too far in and perforates the eardrum.  Occasionally, the cotton head will pop off in the ear canal, necessitating removal by an ear specialist.

Do no put point objects in the ear canal, as this can also cut the skin and cause damage to the ear canal or eardrum.

Ear candling is a dangerous practice which supposedly ‘vacuums’ was from the ear.  Candling has been associated with eardrum perforations and burns from hair catching on fire.

Periodic use of over-the-counter wax softener may help loosen wax and allow it to slide out of the ear canal.

The best ear maintenance is LEAVE YOUR EARS ALONE.  For certain people who accumulate wax faster, periodic visits to an otolaryngologist are necessary to have the ears professionally cleaned.

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