There are a wide variety of commercial products marketed for removing earwax. Some of these products are effective, some are a waste of money but harmless, and a few are potentially dangerous and should be avoided.
Earwax is a naturally forming substance in the human ear. Its function is similar to that of the hairs in the nose. It catches foreign particles and prevents them from building up in the ear and causing possible damage. In most cases, it eventually oozes out of the ear, thus removing the foreign particles. However, earwax is denser in some individuals and has more of a tendency to build up rapidly. Excessive build-up does not typically cause any permanent damage to the ear, but If allowed to build up too much, it can occlude the ear canal, resulting in discomfort and temporary loss of hearing. Individuals who have a tendency toward earwax build-up can prevent this from happening by removing the wax regularly.
There are two types of commonly recommended products for removing earwax. One type of product is a liquid compound called carbamide peroxide that dissolves earwax when dripped into the ear. It is marketed under a number of brand names, but look for the active ingredient, carbamide peroxide.
The other method is to use a mechanical device to physically remove the wax from the ear. Extreme caution is recommended in regard to this type of product. However, there are some that are relatively safe to use, even on yourself. The most notable of these is the Ototek Loop, which is an elongated plastic tool with a loop in the end and a special plastic guard that prevents it from being inserted too far into the ear.
To remove earwax using carbamide peroxide solution, purchase the product along with a rubber syringe. Place several drops in the affected ear with the head tilted in such a way that the liquid will flow deep into the ear canal. Insert a piece of cotton in the ear so that the liquid will not leak out, and leave it there for 20 to 30 minutes. After the time has elapsed, remove the cotton and flush the ear with warm water using the rubber syringe.
A tool such as the Ototek Loop can be used to remove impacted earwax by carefully inserting it into the ear to one side and swiping to the other side before pulling it out. The loop will catch hold of any wax in its path, allowing the user to pull it out. These two methods may be used together; however, be aware that seriously impacted earwax may have to be removed by a doctor.
A common home remedy known as "ear candling" is useless and should be avoided. Advocates of this process claim that special candles can be used to suck earwax out of the ear canal. As evidence, they will demonstrate that the candle becomes discoloured once the process is complete. However, studies have shown that the used candles contain little or no earwax. Moreover, the candles will become discoloured when burnt, even when not inserted into someone's ear. The practice is a hoax, and there is also a small danger that hot wax could be accidentally dripped into the ear, creating an more serious problem.
No tool or small object should ever be inserted into the ear canal unless it is specifically designed in such a way so as to prevent it from being inserted too far into the ear. The ear drum is very delicate and can easily be punctured. If earwax cannot be easily removed, always consult a doctor. Medical professionals have equipment specially designed for this purpose and can remove the wax without causing harm to the eardrum.