Cotton buds are the default option for ear cleaning and it has been like that since we can remember. The soft buds called Q-tips are gentle enough to remove the buildup of wax from the ears and are considered perfect for their purpose. However, according to a new scientific discovery, our ears have a sort of “self-cleaning mechanism” which greatly eliminates the need for cotton buds. What’s more, some experts consider them very bad for our ears as they can cause pain and infections.
When you insert a cotton bud in the ear, you remove only a bit of the wax, leaving plenty of build-up behind. This buildup of wax can be the cause of infections. Furthermore, if you’re not careful, a Q-tip can scratch the thin and sensitive skin of the ear canal, causing further problems.
According to experts, wax buildup in our ears is common and normal. The wax protects the ear from dirt particles and bacteria. Through processes such as chewing and movement, bits of the wax harden and fall out. Bits of it also get washed out when we shower or take a bath. However, in some cases this doesn’t happen. The unnatural wax buildup is a problem that affects thousands of people all over the world. To remove the excess wax, we clean our ears with cotton buds which don’t really help. In this way, more wax is pushed deep inside the ear canal which can lead to serious problems.
Here are some problems that can be caused by cleaning your ears with Q-tips:
The Inside of Your Ears Could Dry Out
Earwax keeps bacteria and foreign particles away from our ears and also keeps them from drying out. By removing parts or all of it if you’re lucky every day, there’s a risk your ear might dry out from the inside. If this happens, you’ll be far more susceptible to ear infections.
You May Hurt Yourself
Although they are soft, one little push is all it takes for you to damage the eardrum or the inside of your ear. Applying too much pressure by accident can injure your ear from the inside. Should you scratch the sensitive skin near the eardrum, an ear infection might follow. And, trust us, you don’t want that.
May Lead to the Accumulation of More Wax
Pushing bits of wax deeper inside the ear will make it stick together. Since you can’t get it all, plenty of wax might build-up deeper inside the ear so it’ll become even harder to remove it all. A great build-up of wax in your ears might block your eardrum and impair your hearing, not to mention that it raises the risk of ear infections.
How to Clean Your Ears Properly
Now you’re probably wondering, “Well, how do I clean my ears if Q-tips are bad?” Well, apart from talking to your doctor about it, there’s a simple method at home which can also help. It’s much safer and more effective and won’t harm your ears as Q-tips can.
Here’s what you’ll need for the procedure:
- Rubbing alcohol
- Hydrogen peroxide (optional)
- Bulb-syringe (alternatively a bottle with a small hole on the top or a plastic medical syringe without a needle)
Warm up the water for a bit – it needs to be neither too hot or cold. If you’re planning on using hydrogen peroxide, add a few drops to the water in the bowl. Put a towel (or another bowel) under your face to catch the discharge from your ear.
Now, fill the plastic medical syringe (without a needle!) or bulb syringe with the water from the bowl, then gently insert only the tip in your ear and fill with water slowly. Wait for the wax to start leaving your ear – it should take about 5 minutes or so. When it’s done, switch over to the other ear. In the end, put a few drops of rubbing alcohol in your ear to dry out the ear canal.
If there’s no wax after 5 minutes, you feel dizzy or you’re in pain during the procedure, STOP IT IMMEDIATELY! If you want to, you can repeat the process a few hours later.
The procedure takes more time and is a bit more complicated than using Q-tips, but it’s also much more effective and safer. It helps clean your ears in a more natural way which is much better than using dangerous cotton buds.