What is Ear Wax and How is Earwax Buildup Removed?

Ear Wax
What is Ear Wax and How is Earwax Buildup Removed?

What is Ear wax

Ear wax is basically a waxen oil secreted by the ear canal which is also known as cerumen. Even though it may look disgusting it serves the important purpose of protecting the ear from foreign objects, dusts and microorganisms. It also prevents irritation of the ear canal skin when it comes in contact with water. Usually, the excess ear wax falls out of the ear through a natural process.

When the skin glands produce more ear wax than normal then it can solidify and block the ears. While cleaning the ears using a cotton bud the wax may be pushed in deeper and cause damage to the ear drum. This is why extreme caution is advised while cleaning out the ears at home.

How Earwax Builds Up

Some people are prone to more ear wax buildup than others. Even then the excess ear wax does not block the ears and the most common cause is in fact caused by people’s bad attempts at ear wax removal. Using cotton buds, keys and other large objects can actually push the wax deep inside and block the opening.

Prolonged and frequent use of earphones or earplugs can also lead to buildup of ear wax because it hinders the wax from naturally falling out of the ears.

Ear wax Removal

You should never try to dig out ear wax using random tools because it may lead to serious consequences such as hearing loss or ear infections. The cotton buds should only be used in the outer ear as required.


The ear wax can be softened and then drained out using home remedies or over-the-counter solutions. Some substances that can be used include hydrogen peroxide, baby oil, mineral oil, glycerin and carbamide peroxide.


Ear irrigation is another way to safely remove the ear wax but it is not recommended for those who have underwent an ear surgery or have dealt with an ear injury because it can lead to an infection or even hearing loss.

There are irrigation kits available at pharmacies that come with specific instructions on how to properly clean the ears. The process involves maintaining your head at an upright position and pulling the ear upward. A syringe is used to send a stream of warm water into the ear and care should be taken to keep the water at body temperature. After several minutes the water can be drained out by tilting the head to one side.

Irrigation can be repeated a few times if there is serious wax buildup. Frequent repetition can help prevent any blockages in the future as well.

Doctor Consultation


Most people only need to visit the doctor once a year to have their ears cleaned. If you are not able to clean the buildup yourself or have an irritated ear canal then you should seek a medical professional.  It is important that the doctor rules out any serious conditions and infections using an otoscope. The doctor can also recommend products and procedures to safely clean your ears at home.

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