Dr. J. Jayabaskar

Consultant - ENT - Head & Neck Surgeon

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Reviewed by

Dr. J. Jayabaskar

Consultant - ENT - Head & Neck Surgeon

Manipal Hospitals, Salem

Is Ear Wax Removal Safe? Its Risks And Management

Reviewed by:

Dr. J. Jayabaskar

Posted On: Mar 07, 2024

blogs read 6 Min Read

How to Safely Remove Ear Wax? All You Need to Know

Ear wax, medically termed cerumen, is a natural substance that our ears produce. It is a crucial substance that protects the ear canal. Ear wax traps outside dirt and debris to shield our ear canal. It can also fight bacteria and infection. The lubrication of the ear canal is important as it safeguards the ear from drying out. However, excessive buildup of ear wax can block your ear canal and even cause hearing loss. Thus, removing the ear wax at regular intervals is necessary to avoid ear wax-related complications.

Read this blog to learn more about how to clean ear wax at home safely.  


How Does Excessive Ear Wax Affect You?

More often than not, being a natural bodily substance, ear wax is harmless. Its presence does help you in many ways. Consider it a natural cleanser. Usually, it gets out on its own. 

Our ear canal consists of certain glands. The ear wax is a fatty mixture that these glands secrete. The more you move your jaw by talking or chewing, the more wax gets produced. It typically dries up on its own and flakes off from the ear canal.

However, if the ear wax gathers a lot of debris, it can sit in your ear canal. If it stays for long, it will get hard. This makes natural ear wax removal difficult. 

The most common causes of excessive ear wax buildup are:

  • Dry earwax

  • Narrow ear canal

  • Excessive ear hair

  • Hearing aids

  • Other earplugs, like earphones

  • Using cotton swabs to clean your ears

This extreme buildup can have several negative impacts. This includes:

  • Hearing loss by ear canal blockage

  • Earache by the pressure from excessive wax

  • Tinnitus is when your ears feel like ringing or buzzing

  • Itchiness in the ears

  • Bad odour from ears

  • Ear discharge

  • Dizziness

Ear Wax Removal Risks and Management

You may think that removing ear wax is a simple procedure and that you can do it all by yourself. However, while doing that, we often make the condition worse. 
We tend to use cotton swabs, bobby pins, or other objects to remove ear wax. This can lead to scratches or can damage the delicate ear skin. As a result, it will only increase the chances of infections. 

Removing ear wax using cotton swabs actually does quite the opposite of cleaning the ear wax. It pushes the wax deeper into the canal. Ear wax builds up on the walls of your ear canal. So, when you push this substance with cotton stabs, you are pushing it toward the eardrums, which will only worsen the impaction. In extreme cases, forceful attempts can rupture the eardrum and require critical medical care. This is termed perforated eardrums. It can also damage the delicate bones in the middle ear. 

How to Safely Remove Ear Wax? 

If you want to remove ear wax at home without causing any harm to your ear, below is the safest way to do so:

  1. Soak a cotton ball in plain water. Do not drench it. Alternatively, you can also use saline water or hydrogen peroxide.

  2. Tilt your head on one side. The affected ear opening should be pointing up.

  3. Drip a few drops of the solution into the ear.

  4. Hold that position for around a minute. This time, gravity will do its job. It will pull down the fluid through the wax. 

  5. Now, tilt your head the other way. 

  6. The wax, along with the fluid, will drain out.

If you feel uncomfortable doing this on your own, you can always seek professional help. Because of advanced medical devices, doctors usually get a better view of our ear canal. This makes the procedure almost risk-free. Here are some usual methods used by our best ENT specialists at Manipal Hospital Salem, Tamil Nadu. 

  • Ear drops: This softens the wax. Thus, the natural removal gets easier.

  • Irrigation: The method is performed using a bulb syringe to drip the solution into the ear and clean it.

  • Microsuction: This ear wax removal procedure uses a small, handheld device that can gently vacuum the wax.

Consult our ENT hospital in Salem if you want to learn more about how to easily remove ear wax

How to Manage Excessive Ear Wax Buildup?

There are some basic steps that you can follow to avoid excessive buildup of wax.

  • Do not insert objects inside the ear canal. 

  • Use over-the-counter drops. They are usually safe. However, you can consult your doctor once to discuss its benefits and complications, if any. 

  • If you experience hearing loss, earache, tinnitus, or any other discomfort, consult an ENT expert in Salem for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Preventive Measures Against Excessive Ear Wax Buildup

While it is natural for a certain amount of ear wax to build up, you can take some precautions to prevent its excessiveness. 

  • Avoid excessive use of earphones, headphones, or earplugs, which can trap moisture. It promotes wax buildup.

  • After taking a bath or swimming, let your ears dry naturally.

  • If you want to use cotton swabs, use them only on the outer part of your ears. 

Consult an ENT specialist if you frequently experience earwax issues. They will not only offer accurate treatment methods but also educate you about the risks and safe practices for ear wax removal.


You can use plain water, saline water, baby oil, or other safe solutions. Use a dropper, cotton balls, or bulb syringe to drip a few drops of the fluid into your ears. Let it sit for a minute, at max. Then, tilt the ear opening downward to drain out the wax. Visit Manipal Hospital Salem, today and talk to our top ENT specialists in Tamil Nadu.

Ear wax is a natural bodily substance. It usually clears out on its own. So, unless you feel any discomfort in your ears, you can let it be. The moment you feel uneasy, either consult a doctor or follow a safe procedure to remove the ear wax.

Stop using cotton swabs to remove ear wax. This can push the wax into the ear canal and block your eardrums. Do not use vacuum or suction devices at home. These objects are only recommended under strict professional guidance. Ear candles are also ineffective. They can severely injure your ears. 

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