Cleaning your ears at home can be fine if you do it properly. However, most people often end up following common mistakes and making their ear wax problem worse, rather than better. Ears are sensitive, and if you aren’t careful, you can risk increasing the amount of wax in your ear at best and having constant pain and permanent hearing loss at worst.
Before you continue to clear your ears, make sure you look at the five common mistakes to avoid. This will help you to clean your ears properly and not cause permanent damage.
Cleaning Your Ears too Much
Most people want to clean their ears daily. However, cleaning too much can lead to some serious issues, especially if you are doing it improperly. Ears are naturally self-cleaning and really don’t need much additional care.
In fact, cleaning out your ears too much can cause a variety of problems. Wax, known as cerumen, acts as a natural lubricant. It also helps to keep out bacteria and fungi that might try to get in. It also prevents water from getting into the ears.
There are times when cleaning your ears is beneficial. If you tend to wear headphones a lot or use stethoscopes, or hearing aids, you may build up more wax than the traditional person. These people need to clean out their ears instead of just allowing them to self-clean.
If you are getting a professional cleaning, you can do it about every few months. At home, you can clean the outside of your ears daily. You can use cotton swabs or washcloths to remove any wax that has migrated away from the ear canal.
If you get buildup and you do have to clean the wax from the inside of your ears, you should do it every 2 to 4 weeks.
Using an Abundance of Chemicals
You might think you are being safer by using products specifically designed to clean your ears. However, if you are using them too frequently, you may actually be hurting your ears.
One product often used is hydrogen peroxide. While this is a very good product for cleaning ears, it can cause issues. When used in small quantities, it softens earwax, allowing it to drain out of the ear.
However, if used often, you may see that it starts to cause inflammation and redness in the ears, and even dry out the inside of the ears.
Other chemicals included in wax softeners for the ears include:
- Mineral oil
- Baby oil
- Hydrogen peroxide
Additionally, you don’t want to add too many chemicals at once either. Always read the instructions before getting started to know how much of the product to use and how often.
Using Small and Pointy Objects
Items like cotton swabs are common for people to try clean their ears with. Sometimes, people will even use short and pointy objects like pens, bobby pins, and knives to try and scrape out the wax from the inside of the ear canal.
Nothing should ever go into your ear canal unless it is done by a professional. The inner parts of the ear like the eardrum can easily be injured even by soft items in the ear. You also risk the possibility of injuring the ear canal itself by scratching and scraping.
Many of the items people put in their ears aren’t clean either, which can lead to infections. All of these problems can lead to a ruptured eardrum, which can cause you to lose hearing in the ear and earaches.
However, these aren’t even the biggest problems with using foreign objects in the ear. Most of these are ineffectual and do more harm than good in terms of cleaning out earwax. While it may look like things like cotton swabs are cleaning out the wax, it is only getting a small amount.
The rest of the wax that it isn’t scooping up is actually getting pushed deeper into the ear. Eventually, when used enough, the wax will get compacted deep in the ear, which causes dangerous blockages.
Rinsing with a syringe is a trend that is growing as well, thanks to all the videos of professionals cleaning out ears with a water tool. However, you can give yourself a swimmer’s ear if you don’t clean it out right, and you’d still risk just pushing the wax further in instead of out.
Using Hot Liquids
Another method of cleaning the ears involves oil. Most of the time, people put in a couple of drops of baby oil or mineral oil in their ears that are warmed up slightly. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, and it is usually considered to be safe.
Where the mistake comes in though, is when people warm up the earwax too much. If you let it get hot, you may end up burning the inside of your ears. Hot oil can also cause permanent damage to your ear canal and eardrum if you aren’t careful.
Instead, you want to make sure that the oil is only lukewarm. You want it to be pretty close to skin temperature, like baby milk.
Trying out Ear Candling
Ear candling was a trend for a while. However, it is something that can be very dangerous and should never be practiced, even if done with care.
Essentially, ear candling is when you take a hollowed-out candle that is shaped like a cone and light it. The heat is supposed to pull out the wax by creating a vacuum.
However, it ends up not working very well at removing ear wax and instead causes damage to the eardrum more often.
Some people say they have had success with ear candling, but with the risks outweighing the benefits, it isn’t often recommended. It can lead to issues like wax buildup, earaches, tinnitus, swimmer’s ear, vertigo, sore throat, sinus infections, and more.
The Bottom Line
Cleaning out your ears occasionally can be beneficial, especially if you wear headphones or have a job that involves covering or putting something in your ears a lot. However, it is important to practice cleaning your ears properly and avoid some common mistakes that can lead to harm if you aren’t careful.
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