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Ear Wax Tips

Stop Using Ear Buds Unnecessarily!

Dr. Pradeep R K A 93% (198 ratings)
ENT Specialist, Trivandrum
Stop Using Ear Buds Unnecessarily!

I always tell my patients not to use ear buds. Hearing this they used to ask me two question.

1) then how will we clear our ear wax?

2) then why is this ear buds so commonly available?

I think lybrate is a very good platform to answer those questions so that it also reaches the maximum.

1) clearing of wax is a normal process which happen in our ear canal. Wax is produced by the ceruminous glands in the outer canal. Minimal amount of wax is very much necessary for protection of the inner ear canal and ear drum. It prevents entry of foreign bodies into the ear. When we use ear bud inside the ear what we actually does is that we are pushing the ear wax more in towards the ear drum which makes it difficult for the ear to self cleanse. In that way unnecessary use of ear bud leds to excessive accumulation of wax which in turn causes lots of other ear problems like wax keratosis, otitis externa etc. Secondly the skin inside the ear canal is thinning and more sensitive than the outer skin, when we introduce ear buds into the ear we may be unknowingly causing small wounds called abrasions inside the canal. These wounds may get infected later, usually causing fungal infections called as otomycosis.

2) my answer to the second question is that ear buds are good to clean the outer structures of the ear, especially the pinna. Pinna is a complicated structure with lots of curves and turns. In order to clean these parts ear buds are very much useful. With the peculiar shape and size of the ear bud it's meant for cleaning such difficult areas. 

I hope I have conveyed my message and this will at leave save few of my brothers and sisters from conditions like otomycosis, otitis externa, wax keratosis, membrane perforations etc.

Swimmer's Ear - How To Treat It?

Dr. Akriba Ahmed 86% (13 ratings)
MBBS, Diploma In Otorhinolaryngology
ENT Specialist, Guwahati
Swimmer's Ear - How To Treat It?

Swimmer’s ear is a condition, which is characterized by an infection in the outer ear. This infection usually stems from the water that remains in the ear after swimming, forming a moist environment that allows bacteria to grow and procreate. This condition can also develop if you happen to insert your finger or other foreign objects into the ears.


The symptoms of this disorder are usually mild in the beginning, but may worsen if left untreated. In its germinating stage, this condition exhibits symptoms such as itching in the ears and a watery discharge. If the disorder has progressed to an advanced stage, then the symptoms become slightly different. An intense pain on the particular side of the face, swelling in the ear and blockage of the ear canal are some of the common symptoms. In extreme cases, swelling of the lymph nodes and moderate to high fever can be indicative of this condition.


The causes of swimmer’s ear are bacteria that are found in soil and water. Your ears have a natural defense system against infections; glands in the ear secrete an acidic substance called ‘cerumen’ that kills the bacteria. The ear canal has a downward slope from the middle ear to the outer ear, thus allowing the water to drain out. Swimmer’s ear occurs when these defenses fail to work. This happens when there is excessive moisture in the ear canal, creating an environment for the bacteria to grow. In addition, certain factors such as swimming in dirty water, a narrow ear canal and excessive cleaning of the ear canal can lead to this condition.


The aim of the treatment is to prevent the infection from progressing and allow the ear to heal. The first step is to clean the ear canal so that the eardrops can reach the affected area. Once the ear is cleaned, eardrops are administered to get rid of the bacteria. The various medications that are used in the treatment of swimmer’s ear are:

1. Antibiotics: They are used to combat the bacteria that cause the infection.

2. Acidic solutions: It is used to restore the normal environment in the ear.

3. Steroids: These help in reducing the inflammation.

You may also be prescribed pain medications to treat the pain resulting from this condition. Try to avoid swimming till the condition heals completely. Make sure you aren’t inserting any foreign object in the ears as that may aggravate the situation further.

2 people found this helpful

Earwax Buildup & Blockage - How To Get Rid Of It?

Dr. Brajpal Singh Tyagi 87% (25 ratings)
ENT Specialist, Ghaziabad
Earwax Buildup & Blockage - How To Get Rid Of It?

The body has its own protective mechanisms, and one of these is the ear wax. The skin in the ear produces an oily, waxy substance known as cerumen. This is produced to help protect the ear from the dust and the microorganisms that it is constantly subjected to. What happens is this earwax is naturally removed from the ear as it gets washed away through the ear canal that opens to the outside. However, in some cases, where there is an excessive production of wax, it can harden and cause blockage. Read on to know more about how this ear wax builds up, how it may cause blockage, and how to get rid of it.

Buildup: As noted, the ear wax is a natural protective mechanism to keep dust and bacteria from entering the ear canal which is a very critical organ. The middle ear is responsible for maintaining overall body balance. However, in some people, more wax is produced than what gets removed. Also, due to recurrent use of earphones and ear buds, the wax can get pushed deeper. The earphones also could block the wax from getting out of the ear canal.

Excessive ear wax can lead to the following:

It is important to know that trying to remove ear wax at home should be avoided, as they can push the wax internally and cause more severe problems. These above symptoms could be indicative of various other problems in the ear and so should be immediately attended to by a medical doctor. Those who use hearing aids may also face the problem of excessive wax buildup.

Removal: As mentioned above, removal should not be done at home. This is true especially for young children and elderly.

  • Wax softening: There are specific drops which can be used to soften ear wax. Some other products at home which can be used include baby oil, glycerine, mineral oil, or hydrogen peroxide.
  • Over-the-counter: Ear irrigation kits are available with clear instructions and can be used safely.

As the next step, clinical removal may be required. Those who are prone for excessive wax buildup may go for an annual or biannual wax removal. This could include irrigation and use of suction or curette to remove the wax. Ear wax, though not very pleasant, has a role to play in the ear’s health and small amounts of it is beneficial.

Earwax Impaction: 4 Signs To Prove That You Need Immediate Treatment

Dr. Harmeet Singh Pasricha 93% (58 ratings)
DNB (ENT), MBBS, MNAMS - Otorhinolaryngology
ENT Specialist, Gurgaon
Earwax Impaction: 4 Signs To Prove That You Need Immediate Treatment

Ear wax which is also known as cerumen is produced by the human body for the protection of the ears. Ear wax possesses both antibacterial and lubricating characteristics. Mostly, the existing ear wax is passed via the ear canal by motions such as chewing and various jaw movements. The skin from the canal widens from within. At this time, it extends from outside the ear and peels off. The ear wax is made by the outer lining of the ears.

Ear wax impaction refers to a situation where there is tremendous build-up within the canal of the ears. Such enormous build-up is indicative that something is seriously wrong. Ears are naturally designed in a way that they self-clean. Build-up of ear wax and obstruction often takes place when people make use of cotton swabs and/or bobby pins to clean out the ears. But using ear buds or cotton swabs are contrary to helpful; they push the ear wax further deep inside the ears, sometimes leading to an injury in the process.

When ear wax impaction is left untreated, it may lead to infections. Signs of severity of the impaction include irritation of the ear and loss of hearing. If there is significant accumulation of ear wax in the ear then it might make looking inside the ear troublesome, thereby, a number of issues can go undiagnosed. Of the main signs of ear wax impaction, the four most foreboding signs include:

  1. Severe Spinning
  2. Decreased Hearing
  3. Nausea and Vomiting
  4. Ringing in the Ear

Other symptoms of earwax impaction include drainage from the canal of the ear, pain in the ear and dizziness.

Upon experiencing the severe signs of earwax impaction or cerumen build-up, the supervising doctor can confirm that you may or may not have a blockage in the ear by looking inside the ear with an ear-scope.
Getting rid of the extra earwax is very easy. Use only cotton swabs to clean out the external region of the ears. In order to soften the consistency of the earwax you can buy certain over-the-counter drops or you can also use substances that are composed of baby oil, and glycerine.

Ear irrigation is another method which you can adopt in order to eliminate the excess earwax. If the patient considering ear irrigation has suffered an injury in the ear or had a medical procedure such as a surgery performed on the ear then he or she should immediately opt out of the idea of ear irrigation. If ear irrigation is performed on an eardrum that has become ruptured then it could lead to infection or loss of hearing. Persons having problem of impacted ear wax should get it cleaned by an ENT specialist every 6 months.

2577 people found this helpful

Severe Earwax Buildup - Common Reasons Behind The Same!

Mr. Sandeep Kumar 89% (66 ratings)
MSc - Audiology, BSc - Speech & Hearing
Audiologist, Ghaziabad
Severe Earwax Buildup - Common Reasons Behind The Same!

In the ear canal, you have a sebaceous gland, which produces a yellowish material called cerumen or earwax. Apart from cerumen, other dust particles also build up inside the ear like hair, dead cells, dust, and foreign materials. This earwax or cerumen acts as a protective coating on the inner side of the ear. It keeps the ears clean and lubricated all the time by trapping the dirt, repelling water, and much more.

Earwax is acidic in nature and also has antibacterial properties, which help in protecting the ears. Without earwax, your ears will become too dry, infected, and water-clogged as well.
Sometimes, when excessive cerumen is produced by the glands than is necessary, it gets clogged inside the ear and your ears get blocked. It will become too hard for you to clean the ears in a natural way. Even when you are trying to clean or pull out the excess earwax with the help of an earbud, there are chances that you push it deep inside. In some cases, there can be a temporary hearing loss due to excess earwax. In all such cases, visit a doctor immediately to clean off the excess earwax that is accumulated in your ears.

Common reasons for severe earwax buildup:

  • Excess production of cerumen
  • Using Q tips, Bobby pins, keys, or napkin edges to clean your ears
  • Excess use of earplugs
  • Inferior quality hearing aids
  • Swimming

To get rid of an itching sensation in the ears or to clean the ears, people often use wrong pins or items, which push the earwax further inside. This way, a lot of earwax gets accumulated inside the ears. Similarly, too much use of earplugs can cause severe earwax buildup. You should make sure that you are using the right method for cleaning your ears and you should clean them frequently to avoid buildup of earwax.

Treatment methods:
Many people face this kind of problem and your doctor will recommend some simple and easy ways to get rid of earwax.

  • Ear drops are suggested as the first step of cleaning excess earwax in the ears. Usually, you need to take a few drops of this in the night and sleep. The earwax will fall off on its own by morning.
  • Ear irrigation is another method used by most of the doctors. In this method, water is applied with pressure in the ears so that the earwax is washed out.
  • Manual removing is also suggested sometimes, if ear irrigation is not working.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

2400 people found this helpful

Outer Ear Infections - Tips To Deal With Them!

Dr. S M Gupta 92% (14 ratings)
MS - ENT, MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery
ENT Specialist, Ghaziabad
Outer Ear Infections - Tips To Deal With Them!

Outer ear infections can be caused by bacteria, virus, or yeast. Also known as swimmer’s ear, as it is very common in swimmers who keep their ears immersed in water for prolonged periods of time. It can also occur when the skin in the outer ear gets infected due to regular use of cotton buds to remove wax. Though it is very common in children, it can be seen in adults too.

The first step in managing an outer ear infection is to identify it.

  • A dull, nagging pain in the outer ear is one of the first symptoms of an outer ear infection. Worsening of the pain when the ear is pressed is confirmatory of the infection. In some people, the pain could even spread to the rest of face, along with the cheeks or down the neck.
  • Foul-smelling, yellow or green drainage is an indication of outer ear infection. The person could feel that the ear is constantly moist.
  • This can be along the ear canal or in the outer ear skin.
  • Mild hearing loss, which if untreated, can be progressive.
  • Redness of the skin around the ear(s).
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes at the base of the jaw.
  • General symptoms of an infection including fever, lethargy, reduced energy levels, and overall tiredness.


Do not treat ear infections on your own. The actual agent causing the infection needs to be identified and treated accordingly. A bacterial infection may require a course of antibiotics, a viral one should be watched and allowed to run its course.


  1. Visit a doctor: They will check and confirm the infection.
  2. Ear cleaning: Cleaning the ear with either a suction or a curette. In some cases, there could be hardened wax which needs to be removed to get relief from the infection.
  3. Antibiotic drops: Either neomycin or ciprofloxacin is used in most cases.
  4. Acetic acid drops: This helps in keeping the bacterial population intact in your ears.
  5. Antibiotics: In severe cases, oral antibiotics may be required. Painkillers like ibuprofen may be also taken if the pain is unbearable.
  6. Saltwater: A home-made solution of vinegar and water or diluted saltwater provides great relief from ear infection symptoms.
  7. Heat pads: A warm, wet cloth applied on the cheek near the ear can provide great relief. It is advisable to sit when the heat pad is being applied to avoid burns.
  8. Preventative ear drops: When going for swimming long duration, OTC ear drops can be applied to provide relief.
  9. Avoid swimming: When the infection has set in and you begin to notice symptoms, avoid swimming for a few days.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

2704 people found this helpful

Swimmer's Ear - What Causes It?

Dr. Manni Hingorani 93% (35 ratings)
ENT Specialist, Delhi
Swimmer's Ear - What Causes It?

Swimmer's ear is an infection of the ear canal, the passage that carries sounds from the outside of the body to the eardrum. It can be caused by many different types of bacteria or fungi.

Swimmer’s ear is a kind of infection which occurs in the outer ear canal and it results in an infected ear canal, long-term pain and irritation. Swimmer’s ear, as you can understand by the name, is referred in such a way because it is caused by water which is left inside the ear after swimming. The stuck water inside the canal gets damp where bacteria and fungus grows and results in an infection. Now we will discuss what are the causes that can bring such a condition.

Causes of Swimmer’s Ear - There are many reasons because of which people suffer from a swimmer’s ear: The entry of too much water inside the ear canal, leaves a part of it inside the ear which eventually allows bacteria to infest. The overcleaning of the ear canal with cotton buds causes the ear wax to come out which allows water to enter. When cosmetic chemicals like hair spray, enter the ears, it causes a sensitive chemical reaction which can lead to infection. Careless scratching inside the ear can result in small cuts inside the sensitive canal, where bacteria can infest. Swimming in water without covering your ears can also cause this.

So next time when you are swimming or scratching your ear without safety, remember that it can cause a swimmer’s ear. But you may have a question in mind, how will I know if I am suffering from this? We have thus listed the symptoms as well.

Symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear-

Constant itching and irritation inside the ear. The pain or itching increases when you pull your year or chew something. There is an acute sensation of blockage inside the ear which is caused because of this condition and results in reduced levels of hearing. Someone suffering from swimmer's ear will have pus or ear fluids draining out from their ears.

Swimmer’s ear condition can be easily prevented if you follow some simple but very effective steps like blocking your ear with buds while swimming, cleaning the ear softly so that no water remains stuck etc. If you neglect any of the symptoms, they can result in a very chronic disease which can even result in hearing loss. So read through our article and understand what Swimmer’s ear is.

1 person found this helpful

Early Swimmer's Ear Infection Symptoms

Dr. Ajay Kothadiya 84% (12 ratings)
Diploma - Diploma - OLO - Rhino-Laryngology, MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery
ENT Specialist, Pune
Early Swimmer's Ear Infection Symptoms

Swimmer's ear is a medical condition, which involves inflammation, irritation or infection of the ear. It may affect the outer ear and also the ear canal. Swimmer's ear is called Otitis externa in medical terms. The condition may be acute to chronic in nature.

Swimmer's ear is an infection that's usually caused by bacteria commonly found in water and soil. Infections caused by a fungus or a virus are less common. This condition is more common in teenagers and young adults. It may occur due to a middle ear infection or because of a respiratory infection such as cold.
Swimmer's ear can occur as a result of swimming in unclean or contaminated water. These waters contain pseudomonas and other harmful bacteria, which can lead to such ear infections. The infections are rarely caused by fungus.

Swimmer's ear may also result due to other reasons. They can be:

  1. Scratching the inside or outside of the ear.
  2. Having something stuck in the ear. When you clean ear wax with cotton swabs or small objects, damage may occur. Using headphone or ear plugs for a long period of time may also cause swimmer's ear.
  3. Allergic reaction to some object or anything placed in the ear may also cause Swimmer's ear. These may be hair products or jewelry.
  4. Some chronic skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis may also lead to this infection.

Risk factors:
There are several factors, which may enhance the risk of getting swimmer's ear. They are as follows:

  1. Swimming in water, which has got elevated levels of bacteria. This includes lakes and ponds.
  2. People having narrow ear canals are at a more risk of swimmer's ear.
  3. Aggressive cleaning and scratching of the ear canal.

The symptoms which indicate swimmer's ear are:

  1. Itching of the ear canal. This becomes intense as the condition progresses.
  2. Redness on the inside parts of the ear, which get more extensive in later stages.
  3. Discomfort which worsens by pulling on the outer ear or pushing on the tragus of the front part of the ear.
  4. Drainage of a fluid which is clear and odorless. As the condition worsens, there is excessive drainage of fluid along with the discharge of pus.
  5. A fullness feeling in the ear and a partial blockage of the ear canal because of swelling and fluids.
  6. In advanced stages, fever and swelling of lymph nodes in the neck is indicated. Hearing impairment may occur.

Swimmer's ear is a health condition, which involves the ear. The ear gets inflamed because of a certain bacterial infection. Although it is not a very severe condition, in some cases it can do significant harm. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

3721 people found this helpful

Earwax - Did You Know Its Color Can Say A Lot About Your Health?

Dr. Amit Beniwal 87% (110 ratings)
MBBS, MD - Medicine, Masters In Evidence Based Medicine
General Physician, Delhi
Earwax - Did You Know Its Color Can Say A Lot About Your Health?

Remember how Shrek literally pulled out a candle from his ear for the dinner table? Ever tried doing it yourself? Well, the stuff in your ears may be called wax, but it can’t really be used to make a candle. However, it certainly can signify a lot about your health. Though the idea of discussing earwax is rather disgusting, it actually plays a pivotal role in keeping your ears healthy and functioning. Earwax protects your eardrums by barring the entry of insects, fungi, bacteria, dust and bacteria. In clinical terms, earwax is also known as cerumen. 

Studies indicate that children typically produce more earwax than adults. The earwax in your ear is a combination of alcohol, shed layers of the ear, unsaturated and saturated long-chain fatty acids and squalene. In order to clean earwax, you should not insert objects too deep in your ear, instead, you can just wipe it off with a cotton swab.  The color and texture of the earwax removed can actually indicate your overall health condition, stress level, genetic ancestry, etc.

Know what your earwax color says about your health 

  1. Pale yellow to yellow earwax: It is the most common type of earwax and indicates overall good health. Children typically produce soft, pale yellow earwax and in case of adults, the color should remain the same, but the texture tends to be sticky. 
  2. Wet vs. dry earwax: Wet and dry are the genetically determined earwax types, wherein, the 'wet type' is dominant and the 'dry type' is recessive. A research, conducted on Biologic variation in health and illness: race, age, and sex differences (1985) by Overfield, Theresa, established that dry-type earwax indicates East Asian and Native American ancestry, while wet-type indicates African and European. 
  3. Thick, dark and black colored earwax: The production of earwax is also influenced by your stress level i.e. when you are stressed out, the glands that are responsible for the production of earwax work overtime and produce excess amount of earwax. As this earwax collects, it can turn thicker and darker thus, this type of earwax is a sign of increased stress level. And, black colored earwax indicates that it has been accumulating in your ears for quite some time and has not been cleaned. To avoid this, it is essential to clean your ears from time to time and in the right way. 
  4. Dry, gray earwax: The gray color of the wax is an indication of dust build-up and must be cleaned properly at regular intervals. However, if your earwax suddenly seems dry and brittle, it could be the sign of a skin infection. Dry earwax accompanied by itchiness in the ear is usually a sign of eczema.
  5. Bloody earwax: Blood in the earwax should never be ignored. This could be caused by an ear infection or can be a sign of ruptured eardrum and you must consult your doctor immediately. 

Thus it is important that you take proper care of your ears so as to ensure that your hearing is maintained and although earwax protects your ears against infections and problems, it must be cleaned from time to time. It is advisable that you get your ears cleaned professionally, in case you are suffering from certain ailments such as Diabetes

6384 people found this helpful

Discharge From Ear - Why You Must Consult A Doctor Urgently?

Dr. Vivek Kumar Pathak 94% (237 ratings)
ENT Specialist, Noida
Discharge From Ear - Why You Must Consult A Doctor Urgently?

Ear discharge is a common problem. The medical term that refers to this condition is otorrhea. The reason behind ear discharge could be multiple. The discomfort is caused due to a number of factors, including bacterial infection, head injuries and excessive ear wax. There are various kinds of drainage, like blood, milky white fluid or wax. It can be noted that drainage of earwax yellow to orange or brown in colour is not a health issue. Other types of ear drainage need treatment or medical attention, depending on the severity of the situation.

Drainage due to ruptured ear drum: In some cases, it is found that there is drainage due to rupturing of the ear drum. It can be remembered that the rupturing of ear drum is not a medical emergency. The drainage, in this case, is clear. It may be mixed with blood or fully bloody. Symptoms in this case range from ear-ringing, intense ear pain, hearing loss to drainage. Eardrum can get ruptured due to the following reasons:

  • Middle ear infections
  • Barotraumas
  • Loud noises
  • Trauma

You will have to remember that this is not an emergency case. The rupture gets repaired or healed naturally. However, if the problem worsens it is best to see a doctor. For healing the rupture, doctors may undertake a tympanoplasty. The doctor might also ask you to try a solution of  1% topical sodium hyaluronate.

Ear drainage due to excessive ear wax: This is a normal condition. It doesn’t usually require medical intervention. However, if the blockage of wax is not removed by natural means or simple cleaning using cotton swabs, oil or hydrogen peroxide, take help from a doctor.
Ear drainage due to infection: If you have been infected by a foreign invader like bacteria, you are likely to notice milky white fluid oozing out of your ear. The infection can be accompanied by fever and pain in the ear. The odour of the discharge is offensive.
Ear drainage due to head injuries: This is dangerous of all other drainage condition. It needs immediate medical intervention. The drainage is definitely bloody in nature. A Large amount of the drainage may contain the cerebral spinal fluid.

Reasons to seek immediate help from your doctor
1. Unbearable pain
2. High fever
3. Blow to the head/skull
4. Sudden loss of hearing
5. Injury caused by a sharp object, leading to drainage bloody in nature.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

3905 people found this helpful

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