As far as body parts go, ears don’t require too much cleaning. As long as you wash them when you are taking a shower and gently clean the canal with a washcloth to get rid of the excess wax, you should be fine.
Remember the old saying that you shouldn’t put anything smaller than your elbow into your ear? Well, it’s true. Your ears are self-cleaning. Through a variety of processes the excess wax and skin debris is deposited into the outer ear where you can easily reach it with a washcloth.
Most of us are grossed out by ear wax so we try to clean our ears using Q-Tips. Unfortunately, Q-Tips aren’t meant for cleaning ears; it even says so on the package.
It’s very easy to damage your eardrum and little bones in the middle ear (ossicles) with a Q-Tip. If this happens, the inner ear will start leaking fluid, putting you at great risk of hearing loss.
Q-Tips can also push the ear wax deeper into the ear causing buildup and blockage. If the thought of having a little ear wax grosses you out, imagine how much worse it will be if you keep pushing the wax back in.
The bottom line is that it’s a bad idea to insert anything into your ear canal, be it a Q-Tip, bobby pin, key or fingernail.
Forget Ear Candling!
Ear wax may be gross, but is it gross enough for you to consider sticking a lit candle into your ear? There are lots of anecdotal tales out there about how ear candling can get rid of wax buildup, stop ear ringing and even cure cancer! The theory behind it is that the candle creates a vacuum which draws wax towards it.
If the threat of catching fire doesn’t deter you, you should know that there is absolutely no scientific evidence that ear candling works. However, there have been many incidents of ear drum perforations and infections from ear candling.
At the end of the day, ear wax is very sticky and the temperatures produced by a burning candle aren’t high enough to melt it.
Safe Ways to Remove Ear Wax
The safest way is to remove it with a washcloth once it reaches the ear canal. However, if the ear wax builds up too fast and it bothers you, you can try some over-the-counter wax softening drops like Debrox or Murine. The oil-based drops loosen the wax and help it slide out of the ear.
Mineral oil will also do the trick if you do not have wax softening drops. Just put a few drops of mineral oil into your ear and then lay your head on a towel-covered pillow. The wax should slip out.
If these DIY methods don’t work, seek medical treatment. Your doctor may choose to irrigate your ear with warm water or remove the wax with a small plastic spoon. But most of the time, your self-cleaning ears will do just fine all on their own.