Put down the cotton bud!

You wash your face and brush your teeth, so it seems perfectly reasonable to clean your ears too. But unlike your face and teeth, our ears are selfcleaning and don’t need a lot of assistance. Annemarie Lindner, Doctor of Audiology at Hearlix shares her dos and don’ts of ear cleaning.

Don’t use cotton buds
Cotton buds are not made to go into the ear canal - even if it says so on the package! First and foremost, a cotton bud pushes most of the earwax back toward the eardrum, causing a blockage. Secondly, cotton buds irritate the sensitive skin in the ear canal, which can lead to pain, irritation and sometimes infection. Lastly, some earwax is a good thing - if you regularly use cotton buds to clean your ears, it messes with the natural process of ear wax production, resulting in not enough wax and leaving your ears itchy and uncomfortable.

Do practice good ear hygiene
Generally, your ears require very little care when it comes to cleaning because earwax naturally migrates from the ear canal to the outer ear. For most people, a simple wipe with a tissue a few times a week will remove any earwax that’s in the outer ear. Earwax is actually pretty useful stuff - in small amounts. It’s a natural cleanser as it moves from inside the ear canal outward, gathering dead skin cells, hair, and dirt along the way. Tests have shown that it has antibacterial and antifungal properties.

“Cotton buds irritate the sensitive skin in the ear canal, which can lead to pain, irritation and sometimes infection.”

 0451Don’t fall for gimmicks
Most people don’t need complex ear cleaning equipment and in fact, some ear wax drop from the chemist actually make it worse. Another method to avoid is ear candling. It doesn’t work and is dangerous.

Do see your audiologist if you have any concerns
If your hearing seems muffled and you think you have a wax blockage, your audiologist has the equipment to safely fix the problem. They can examine your ears and determine how best to remove excess wax via either a curette or with micro-suction.

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