Under normal circumstances, wax in the ear provides a layer of protection against dirt, germs, and other foreign objects. In some cases, though, ear wax builds up, which can make hearing difficult and lead to pain in the ear. If ear wax buildup is a problem, there are several methods of home ear wax removal, such as irrigation and using drops. As long as the methods of wax removal are performed properly, they are generally safe and effective.
One common home ear wax removal method is to place drops in the affected ear. A person can use baby or mineral oil, hydrogen peroxide, or glycerin to help soften and break up the excess ear wax. He should place two or three drops in the ear twice a day for no more than five days.
After a person applies the drops to the ear for a few days, a warm shower may be all she needs to rinse away the excess, softened ear wax. In some instances, she may need to irrigate the ear to fully remove the remaining ear wax. This method of home ear wax removal involves filling a syringe with water. The tip of the syringe is inserted near the ear wax and a stream of water is gently squirted at the wax.
A person should keep his head upright while irrigating his ear and tug on the tip of the ear to align the ear canal. After irrigating, he should tilt his head to one side so that the water and any loosened wax drain away. It's important that a person uses body-temperature water when irrigating his ear. Water that's too hot or too cold can make a person dizzy when squirted into the ear.
After irrigating, the ear needs to be dried to prevent infection or irritation. It can be dried using a hair dryer on a low heat setting. A few drops of alcohol placed into the ear should also help it to dry.
If those methods of home ear wax removal do not get rid of the excess wax, a person may need to purchase an over-the-counter ear wax removal system, which usually consists of an ear wax remover solution and a bulb syringe. In some cases, home ear wax removal may not be effective at all, and a person will need to make an appointment to see her doctor. A doctor may use suction to get the ear wax out or use a special device designed to scoop out the wax.