What is earwax?

First, it is important to recognise that earwax (cerumen) is a natural substance fulfilling essential functions within the ear canal. Earwax is a natural cleanser and a part of the ear's self-cleaning mechanism. One of its functions is to gather dead skin cells, dirt, and hair as it moves outward from inside the ear canal. 

Cerumen also has antibacterial and antifungal properties which protect your ears against infections. So you see the right amount of earwax is very beneficial, while not having enough can leave you with itchy, uncomfortable ears. 

Why do I have excessive earwax?

Too much of a good thing can indeed be problematic at times, especially when it comes to earwax. Excess earwax can create an earwax build-up in the ear canal, causing infections, earaches, and hearing loss. Many factors can explain why some people are more prone to producing excess earwax. For instance, when the cerumen gathers a lot of dirt and debris or stays in the ear canal for an extended period, it can get dry and hard, making it more likely to form a blockage.

In addition, eczema and dry, flaking skin can also contribute, resulting in hard earwax. Many other health conditions can also make it more likely to develop an impaction. Some people have a lifelong issue with excessive wax because their body is prone to producing dry earwax for no apparent reason. 

What is the best way to remove stubborn earwax at home?

You can always seek help from a healthcare provider to get the blockage safely removed from your ear canal. You can find your closest wax removal clinic here. 

Alternatively, you can try a DIY approach and give effective home remedies a try. But before we give you the steps to take to safely remove stubborn earwax at home, let's make sure you are clear on what you should never do. 

You should never stick a cotton bud inside your ear or use a cotton swab to help remove the wax. Sticking any object inside the ear canal is a bad idea, as it can push the earwax deeper, may cause a ruptured eardrum or an ear infection. 
Instead, here is a simple earwax removal method for you to try and the steps to follow to remove the blockage safely. 
  1. Soak a cotton ball in a few drops of plain, warm water, saline solution, or hydrogen peroxide. 
  2. Drip a few drops of the liquid into the ear. Be sure to keep your head tilted so that the affected ear is facing up. 
  3. Keep your head in the tilted position for about 60 seconds to allow gravity to do its job and pull the fluid down, reaching the wax. 
  4. After 60 seconds, tilt your head the other way, with the affected ear facing down, and let the fluid and the wax mixture drain out.

Additional tips

If you only have a small wax impaction, over-the-counter ear drops may also be helpful. You can purchase ClearEars wax removal spray from our online store here. 

In general, there are two types of ear drops, water-based and oil-based. Water-based ear drops often contain hydrogen peroxide or acetic acid.

On the other hand, oil-based eardrops tend to work by lubricating and softening the earwax. 
Here's how to use ear cleaning drops:
  1. Lay down on your side with the affected ear facing up. 
  2. Place a few drops of the ear cleaner according to the direction.  
  3. Allow the drops to work for about five minutes.

After five minutes, sit up, and you should have the liquid come out of your ear along with the wax. Use a tissue to wipe the mixture away. 

What about excess earwax and hearing aids?

If you suffer from hearing loss and use hearing aids to amplify your hearing, you should know that hearing aids block the natural migration pattern of earwax. In addition, hearing aids may stimulate certain glands to secrete more of the substance. 

Hearing aids can be particularly troublesome as they trap earwax in the vents and receivers. If you use hearing aids and suddenly notice a drop in your ability to hear with your device, get your hearing aids evaluated and checked for wax build-up. 

What is the bottom line?

Removing stubborn earwax at home is not an overly complicated task. However, everyone is different, and you should be sure that your eardrums are not damaged.

Placing any liquid (olive oil, mineral oil, ear drops, water, etc.) into the middle ear is extremely dangerous and can lead to an infection. 

If you try dislodging the blockage and fail, you might want to seek professional help. Healthcare providers use methods similar to home remedies, except that they have better tools and expertise. One particular device you can expect to see doctors use is a thin spoon-shaped curette that fits inside the ear canal. 

To find your closest Connect Hearing clinic that provides wax removal services click here.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. You should not use the information as a substitute for, nor should it replace, professional medical advice. If you have any questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.