There are many products on the market for cleaning ears and smart consumers should consider various ear cleaning methods for removing debris and wax. Keep in mind that the ear drum is fragile, so it is imperative to use precautions never to puncture it by inserting anything past the outer area of the ear.
The Useful Cotton Swab
While no one recommends a cotton swab for sticking into the ear canal, it will still fit nicely in the folds of the outer ear. After a washcloth has been used, carefully go around the inside of the outer ear. Do not stand in front of a door, on slippery wet tile, try this in a crowded bathroom, or risk any chance of someone bumping that swab into the ear canal and perforating the ear drum. For the wax that seems to remain in the ear canal, consider swirling the swab, off to the sides, near the edges, but never venturing inside the inner ear canal.
Among the myriad of ear cleaning products, ear drops are the easiest to use and often a first step for ear wax removal. Drops have various formulas, some including hydrogen peroxide. Most ear drops have some form of softening agent such as natural oil, but many include the compound docusate sodium. The end goal of these types of ear drops is to loosen the wax and debris from the wall of the inner ear so that the wax and dirt naturally make their way out on their own.
Chemical Ear Washes
Ear washes are usually water-based, with hydrogen peroxide or saline. The newer ear washes are sold in cans and often have an ergonomically correct tip and overall design. This allows someone to use the product on themselves. The solution is gently washed into the ear, the customer lies on their side and gravity gently washes out the debris and excess solution. This product is also good if you have a bug that you would like gently removed.
Bulb syringes generally do not have any additional ingredients besides water, although sometimes hydrogen peroxide is recommended for loosening. Using one of the oldest and most common ear cleaning methods, the bulb-shaped syringe is filled with warm water and placed inside the tip of the ear canal. Water is gently pushed into the ear until sufficient wax or other debris has been irrigated out. This is often done by a family member, or in a doctor’s office as the design makes it awkward and difficult to do on oneself. However, more and more kits are being created and sold that make it easy to syringe or irrigate your own ear at home.
Home remedies often include olive oil, or mineral oil to help clean out ears. These oils can be dropped in to slowly loosen ear wax and may be flushed out, or trusted to find its own way. The oils can also be used to drown an insect that has made its way into the ear canal. While foreign object removal should be left up to professionals, oils may be used to soften the ear canal by your physician prior to removal. If there is any possibility that you may have a perforated ear drum however see your doctor as oils can irritate, delay healing, or cause hearing loss if used incorrectly.
People often think of ear candling as a bizarre way to remove ear wax, and there is some controversy and debate surrounding the procedure. In ear candling, a wax-soaked cloth forms a hollow candle with a precise tip. The tip is placed in the ear canal while the top of the candle is lit on fire creating a vacuum. The vacuum gently pulls out some ear wax, but what most do not understand is that the primary goal is to draw out debris from old infections, similar in substance to cornmeal, as opposed to drawing out ear wax. Fans of the procedure claim that it is safe when done properly, and that ear candling helps with sinus pressure, tinnitus, and that it removes irritating allergens.
With the many ear cleaning methods available, it should be easy to choose procedures and products for each situation. Be careful to maintain your ears properly for optimal hearing and ear health.