Video transcription

Hi I'm Dr. David Hill and today we are going to be talking about how to remove ear wax at home. Now people find ear wax really disturbing and occasionally a buildup of ear wax may cause a problem like pain or decreased hearing but for most people you really don't need to do anything about ear wax. Remember ear wax or ceremun we call it in medicine is very protective not only does it form a physical barrier preventing bugs and dirt from getting into the ear it also forms an acidic chemical barrier fighting off bacteria and keeping them from causing outer ear infections like swimmer's ear. Now what do you not want to do? You absolutely do not want to put a Q tip here in the ear canal. What happens there is generally a little narrowing or twist in the canal about half way down and when you go in with a Q tip you usually push more wax in than you get out. That can cause an impaction and decreased hearing, even ear infections. This tissue is very very delicate and tender and it is easy to scratch and introduce infections even when we are doing it professionally in the doctor's office it is challenging. You also don't want to force water forcibly into the ear. Doctors do this sometimes but we have always looked first to make sure there is not a hole in the tympanic membrane or ear drum because if you put infected fluid into the middle ear here you can cause a really bad ear infection. So what can you do? Well you can instill some ear drops. Those drops can be a home made solution, half white vinegar and half alcohol that is especially protective for swimmer's ear. You can also use a little bit of peroxide. You can use mineral oil or baby oil. You really should not use a vegetable oil like olive oil because that gets in the ear and go rancid. You can use just a simple wet wash cloth in the bath and just wash the outside of the ear and know that for almost everybody the ear wax is going to work its way out. The skin down here grows outward like a little conveyor belt and it carries the wax out of the ear with time. One last thing ear candling may be popular but has never been shown to do anything about ear wax and it may pose a really serious fire hazard so more and more we are counseling patients to avoid candling because it is dangerous and as best we know it just doesn't work. Talking about getting ear wax out at home, I'm Dr. David Hill.