Hard ear wax can be softened with over-the-counter medications, or through the use of a mineral oil or baby oil. Discover why a Q-tip should never be used to remove ear wax with help from a pediatrician in this free video on ear problems.
Hi, I'm Doctor David Hill and today we're going to be talking about how to remove hard ear wax. Now, in medicine we call ear wax cerumen, and in most cases ear wax is good for ears, it serves an important protective function. It both serves a physical barrier against dirt, insects and other things that might harm the ear canal or ear drum. It also serves as a chemical barrier against bacteria. One of the things that can cause swimmers ear, or an outer ear infection is actually not having enough ear wax to protect the inside of the ear. In some people, ear wax tends to get dry and hard and may form a blockage of the ear. This dry, hard wax can be very uncomfortable and very difficult to remove so the first step is to soften the wax. Now, there are a few ways to do this. There are over the counter preparations like Debrox, you can use Docusate Sodium, which is usually used as a laxative. You can even Mineral Oil, or Baby oil. I would advise against using Vegetable Oils, like Olive Oil because it can sit in the ear and go rancid. It may cause infection, as well. Using this over a period of days or a week or two will help soften the wax, and it may ride out on its own. The ear canal is very special and with the skin of the canal, this is the part that you can see, actually moves outward as it grows and it'll carry ear wax with it and that's why most people don't get ear wax impactions. Now, if you still think you've got a hard mass of ear wax in the ear, you really want a doctor's help. You never want to use a Q-Tip or Cotton swab in the ear, that's only going to have a ram-rod effect and push that wax farther back, it's not usually going to get more wax out, than it pushes in. The doctor will be able to look inside the ear, and make sure that there's no damage to the inside of the ear canal, or the ear drum, as he or she removes the wax. Sometimes we use a fluid, if we know that the ear drum is intact, we might flush that wax out, we might try and go after it with a Curet like this, or an Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist might even have a special suction tip, that he or she can use to remove the blocked up wax. So, if you have hard wax, remember there are some over the counter and home made remedies that can soften it, but if it's really causing pain or hearing loss, you're going to want a doctor to get a look and see what's going on, and use professional instruments under close observation to make sure that it gets out the right way. Talking about removing hard ear wax, I'm Doctor David Hill.
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