Stop Putting Q-Tips in Your Ears: This is Why


We all know that we probably should not be sticking objects into our ears, yet we persist in doing so, either for the sake of hygiene, as removing earwax feels cleansing, or for the pleasurable sensation that follows; like finally scratching a tenacious itch. But in order to understand why we need to stop removing our earwax with Q-tips we first need to understand why we have earwax in the first place.

Its medical term is ‘cerumen’ and it actually protects our ears from dirt and dust. It also keeps away bacteria and lubricates the ear canal. Earwax also protects our ears from insects and fungal growth in the ear canal. It snares dead skin, hair and dust moving out of the ear as well.

Ears essentially clean themselves. Once the cerumen dries, motions of the jaw shift the old earwax out of the ear opening. Therefore, it is not really necessary to clean your ear with a Q-Tip, under the false pretense that you are cleaning your ear, when in reality you are actually in danger of damaging your ear drum and risking hearing loss.

When we push a Q-Tip into our ear, we sometimes push the wax further in, triggering earwax impaction. A person suffering from ear impaction may feel dizziness, ringing, and pain in the ear.

In this way cleaning of the ears is a self-fulfilling prophecy, it occurs without you having to even lift a finger. If you still desire to clean them, there is a proper technique of using a Q-Tip. Even if the cotton swab part goes inside your ear, you’re doing it the wrong way. You should actually gently stroke the outer curve of the ear, without entering the ear canal.

Ears only truly need to be cleaned if there is a buildup of earwax, which can hinder hearing or make your ears feel full. This problem may be solved by placing one or two drops of baby oil in the ear once or twice a month, though the best option always is to consult a medical professional.

In fact, here’s a real life experience of the dangers of using Q-Tips without being aware of the proper way to use them. One man began drying his ears with Q-Tips after showering. At the beginning, the cleaning felt good, but within a few days he was feeling the effects of causing slight trauma to his eardrum. He would feel vertigo and minor sensory shocks. Due to this, he visited an ear doctor and questioned her about the proper way to go about cleaning his ears and preventing this from occurring again. He discovered that ear wax actually waterproofs the ear canal. By removing the wax the water remains in the ear.

By cleaning your ear with a Q-Tip, you may accidently puncture the ear drum which is quite delicate. By touching the ear drum you inadvertently cause it to press on the small bones beneath which sends shockwaves to the inner ear which brings about hearing and balance issues. By forcing a Q-Tip into your ear, you also just push the wax you’re trying to remove, further into your ear canal. Lastly the doctor also told him that if you get water stuck in your ear, the easiest way to remove it is to take a hair dryer, place it on a cool setting near your ear, until the water evaporates.