When you think of ear hygiene, the first thing you think of is probably a Q-tip. Cleaning out your ears after a shower or bath with a cotton swab feels great … so why isn’t “cleaning ears” pictured on the package’s “suggested uses?” There’s a photo of someone taking off nail polish, someone dusting a keyboard and even one of a mother cleaning her baby’s face. Surprisingly, ears are nowhere to be found.
That’s because using a cotton swab to clean your ears is one of the most dangerous things you can do in the bathroom. In fact, according to The Telegraph, up to 70,000 people in the U.K. wind up in the emergency room each year with Q-tip-related ear injuries, making cotton swabs even more dangerous than razor blades.
The reality is, cotton swabs are NOT a safe way to clean your ears.
Although health professionals have been saying this for years, many people continue to use Q-tips daily.
You should never, ever stick anything in your ear canal – cotton swab or otherwise.
Sticking a Q-tip in your ear compacts the wax, pushing it deeper and deeper into the ear canal. If you go deep enough, there is a very real possibility of rupturing your ear drum.
Believe it or not, earwax isn’t dirty.
But it is unsightly. So, why do we have it?
To understand earwax, we must understand the ear.
Earwax is produced naturally by glands in the ear. It lubricates our ear canal as a natural defense against bacteria and other unwanted trespassers.
Your ear cleans itself.
When people experience wax blockages, they’ve usually created it themselves.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t clean your ears.
There are many natural remedies, but an easy and popular one is to wipe them down with simple salt water.
You can also find ear-cleaning oils at your local health food store.
Test a dab on your wrist before applying to your ears to check for allergies.
Hydrogen peroxide also works well.
You don’t want to pour it directly in your ears; rather, soak a cotton ball and use it to wipe down your ear.
Feeling extra blocked?
It’s safe and effective, but be sure to read the instructions thoroughly.
Never, ever use an ear candle.
Ear candles became popular in the 1990s, but they are neither safe nor effective. Even the F.D.A. agrees that everyone should stay far away from them.
When in doubt, see a doctor.
Audiologists are trained professionals that specialize in the ear. This is one delicate and very important body part that is best left in their care!