03 October 2007


At least in the U.S., there is a myth that one shouldn't allow water into one's ears. In truth, rinsing them with soap and water regularly is a great way to keep earwax from building up to the point of blocking the whole thing. The skin inside the ear canal is the same as everywhere else and can be cleaned the same way. Soap keeps the wax crumbly so that it falls out easier - instead of turning into a hard resinous mass that eventually requires outside intervention.

Outside interventions include:
a) Ear candling. A long hollow cylinder of beeswax is inserted into the ear and lit like a candle. The earwax melts, is drawn upward out of the ear, and rehardens in the candle.
b) Shooting water into the ear at high speed and volume, such as with a giant syringe. The wax slug will pop out of the ear with a sudden loud gurgle.
c) Chemical wax dissolvers. This will turn the wax into a dark brown ooze, which means your ears have the runs. Depending on how much wax was in there at the time, it could go on for days.

It is still true that one shouldn't put solid objects into one's ears. Cotton swabs in particular used to be a popular way to clean out the ear canals. However, all that does is push the wax to the back and pack it in tighter. That never ends well. Leave the cotton swabs in the hands of earwax experts with bright lights.

More about avoiding earwax

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