How do I Choose the Best Ear Wax Remover?

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  • Written By: Stacy Ruble
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 03 February 2019
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Ear wax, or cerumen, does not need to be removed unless it is causing pain or hearing loss. When choosing the best ear wax removal, there are a few different factors to consider. People with a history of ear infections or who have damaged ear drums should be wary of any type of fluid being used to clear the wax, as additional damage can occur. The hardness of the wax will impact which type of ear wax remover will be most effective. Whether the person is being treated by an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor may also affect which ear wax remover is used.

The most common at-home ear wax remover is the standard cotton swab. A cotton swab will work if done gently, if there is not a lot of wax present, and if the wax is soft enough to be easily removed. Those with a lot of wax or wax that is hard may actually inadvertently compact the wax down with the swab, which can damage the ear canal or ear drum.


Another ear wax removal method is irrigation, which can be administered in various ways. Fluid is sprayed into the ear with a syringe or similar device to soften the wax so it can be washed out or remove itself naturally. The fluid may be warm sterile water or can be a solution that includes a type of peroxide. Irrigation will not work with very hard wax and some people find this type of ear wax remover uncomfortable. Persons with histories of ear infections or who have damaged ear drums should not use irrigation, as the liquid can get trapped between the wax and ear drum and cause additional damage.

There are over-the-counter and prescription ear drops that successfully soften and ultimately remove the wax. Some drops can irritate the skin. Caution should be used before using drops if there have been previous ear infections or the ear drum is damaged. Another wax softening method of ear wax remover is simply putting a drop of baby oil or olive oil in the affected ear one to two times a week. The oil may soften the wax so that it can be removed more easily or will exit the ear naturally.

ENT doctors or similarly skilled individuals have additional methods for ear wax removal. A curette may be used, which is a tool with a small ring at one end of a long thin handle that is used to scoop the wax from the ear canal. Doctors may also use a suctioning device. ENT doctors will often use some type of microscope in order to most accurately remove the wax safely.

Candling is a potentially dangerous home remedy that is used. A candle is put in the person’s ear and lit. The suction of the burning flame is thought to create a vacuum which removes the wax. The dangers of this type of ear wax remover include burning the skin with hot wax or starting a fire.


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Post 3

@Mor - Ears are very sensitive. It's possible that someone might just get so used to their ear being blocked by wax that they don't notice it as a problem for a long time, but most people will realize quite quickly that they need to have some removed.

If I have any pain in my ear, or if my hearing suddenly decreases it's the first thing I try. I used to use cotton buds, but apparently they just make the problem worse, because they can compact the wax. And you're not supposed to use hot water in the shower or anything either, as it can cause an infection.

So I just use a little bit of baby oil, or, if it's really bad, I go and get an ear wax remover from the drug store. They aren't that expensive and they tend to last for ages since you don't need to use that much.

Post 2

@umbra21 - I know candling is nonsense, but you'd be surprised what can be found in people's ears. My friend recently had to have a bug removed from her ear that had been in there for several days. She had been in pain from it, but apparently didn't feel like her ear was blocked or anything and didn't try an ear wax cleaner because she didn't think a blockage was the problem.

It just shows that you might not be aware of what is in there or what it's doing to you.

Post 1

My sister is an audiologist and she is quite scathing about people using candling to try and remove ear wax. Supposedly it's a technique that's been handed down from ancient tribes of one stripe or another, but no one seems to want to officially claim it. People seem to think that it's not even about ear wax removal, but that the candle will remove "impurities" from the ear and generally improve health. And it looks like it's working because the candle wax takes on the appearance of dirty ear wax after it's been fired.

It's got no basis in reality though and it's basically just a way to fool people and get their money. If you really need wax removed, then you should go to a specialist, or purchase wax remover from a pharmacy. It's not all that complicated and there are no impurities in there.

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