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The Hidden Risks of Self Ear Cleaning


Our ears are essential sensory organs that enable us to hear and perceive the world around us. Maintaining proper ear hygiene is crucial for preserving ear health. However, self ear cleaning, often done with cotton buds or other tools, poses significant dangers that many people overlook.

In this blog post, we'll explore the potential risks associated with self ear cleaning and provide safer alternatives for maintaining healthy ears.

1. Pushing Earwax Deeper:

One of the most common dangers of self ear cleaning is inadvertently pushing earwax deeper into the ear canal. Cotton buds and similar tools can easily pack the earwax further down, leading to blockages, discomfort, and potential hearing issues. Accumulated earwax can impair the eardrum's function and can lead to temporary hearing loss.

2. Risk of Ear Canal Injuries:

The skin in the ear canal is around 0.5mm thick and is therefore very delicate. This makes it susceptible to injury. When people attempt to clean their ears themselves, they may unintentionally cause abrasions to the ear canal and/or irritate the sensitive skin lining the canal. Such injuries can cause pain, swelling, and even infections that require medical attention.

3. Ear Infections and Bacterial Growth:

Self ear cleaning disrupts the natural balance of the ear canal, which serves as a protective barrier against harmful bacteria. The introduction of unsterilized instruments or dirty hands into the ears can lead to bacterial growth and increase the risk of ear infections. Ear infections can be painful and may lead to complications if left untreated.

4. Perforated Eardrum:

Perhaps one of the most severe consequences of self ear cleaning is a perforated eardrum. This can occur when too much pressure is applied during the cleaning process, leading to a tear or hole in the eardrum. A perforated eardrum can cause hearing loss and persistent ear infections.

Safe Alternatives for Ear Cleaning:

a. Earwax Removal conducted by a Professional: When necessary, consider seeking earwax removal services, conducted by a professional. Usually, the process is called "Microsuction" which involves a small, metal probe being inserted into the ear to gently suck the earwax from the ear canal.

b. Use Olive Oil Ear Drops: Over-the-counter olive oil drops can help soften and dislodge earwax, making it easier for the body to naturally remove it. This does not always work, and will depend on the amount/consistency of the earwax. If the earwax has already been pushed further down, it may mean it is unable to migrate naturally and professional removal may be required.

c. Allow the Body to Self-Clean: The ear is self cleaning and earwax will migrate naturally. Some things slow this process down (e.g. wearing hearing aids, headphones, shape of the ear canal). So, it may still be necessary to have earwax removed professionally if there is a particularly bad build up.


In conclusion, self ear cleaning may seem like a harmless routine, but it carries significant risks that can impact your auditory health. Avoid using cotton buds or other foreign objects in your ears, and instead, opt for safer alternatives like olive oil ear drops or professional earwax removal.

Remember, if you experience persistent earwax build-up or any discomfort in your ears, consult a healthcare professional for appropriate guidance.

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