Do any of these myths sound familiar to you?
- Ear wax is bad
- You need to clean your ears
- Ear wax is a sign of poor hygiene
- Ear candles are safe and effective
Ear wax isn’t exactly a hot topic of dinner time conversation but understanding why we have ear wax, and how the ear cleans itself is important in maintaining your ear health. If you have ever consulted Dr Google to answer any of your ear wax questions you will know that it can be very confusing to discern fact from fiction. Particularly when so many tips seem to contradict one another and every source is portrayed as an expert. Often you can find yourself with more questions than answers.
Could you have too much ear wax?
What does too much ear wax feel like?
If you have too much wax, can people see it in your ears?
Should you use cotton buds to keep your ears clean?
Should you use ear candles? Are they safe? Do they work?
Why do we even HAVE ear wax?
Don’t worry, we’re here to help! We sat down with the undisputed experts on ear wax and ear health – our team of registered Earworx nurses – to set the record straight on ear wax.
Ear Wax is Bad
MYTH! Ear wax seems to get a pretty bad rap out there, but did you know that it’s actually completely normal? More than normal, in fact, it’s healthy to have wax in your ears and wax plays a crucial role in keeping your ears healthy and free of infection. Ear wax keeps your ears lubricated and itch-free; it traps dirt, and dust and even deters insects from venturing into your ear due to its bitter taste.
But of course, too much of anything can become problematic, and in some cases, ear wax can build up to the point where it causes a blockage, maybe even causing an earache from the pressure in your ear canal. It’s usually at this point that people start investigating how to remove ear wax (hello Dr Google!) and this is where the registered nurses at Earworx also come to the rescue! If you are at this point, you are in the right place, because Earworx has clinics all over Australia, with a team of practically trained and friendly registered nurses who are on hand to provide safe and effective ear wax removal.
You Need to Regularly Clean Your Ears
MYTH! As we discussed, our ears need ear wax for the protective role it plays, preventing infection, bug invasions, and trapping dust. But if your body continuously produces ear wax, doesn’t that mean your ears will fill up with it? Although few people know this, your ears actually have their own self cleaning mechanism which regulates the removal of excess ear wax. The process works by a thin layer of skin which slowly migrates out of the ear canal, carrying any excess wax with it. When combined with jaw movement from chewing and talking, the migrating wax is loosened at the external entrance to your ear canal where it simply falls away or can be gently wiped away with a cloth.
Ear Wax Comes From Poor Hygiene
By now we know that some ear wax is very healthy, but is too much ear wax a sign of poor hygiene? Absolutely not – MYTH! A build-up of ear wax can occur as a result of various genetic and lifestyle factors. In terms of genetics; sometimes the shape of your ear canal may simply mean you are more naturally prone to excessive ear wax, particularly if you have narrow, bendy or hairy ear canals. This type of buildup has nothing at all to do with hygiene.
In terms of lifestyle factors, regular use of ear plugs, earphones, or hearing aids can interfere with the self-cleaning process, which again, have nothing at all to do with hygiene. In addition, stress and working in dusty environments can also lead to ear wax build up, not cleanliness. All of these factors will impact on your ear wax volume, so it’s important to monitor your ears for any signs of blockage, but it doesn’t mean you have poor hygiene. In fact if you clean your ears with cotton buds, going against the old saying ‘don’t put anything smaller than your elbow in your ears’, then you can over clean your ears causing them itch and preventing the good things that small amounts of ear wax does.
Ear Candles Are an Effective at Removing Wax
Ear wax candles have become quite popular, claiming to be a natural way to remove wax from your ear canal, relieving the discomfort from a blocked ear. While you lay on your side (hopefully not alone), a hollow cone shaped candle is inserted into your ear canal, far enough into the canal for the candle to stay upright, while the other end of the candle is lit. It is claimed that the heat which is created as the candle slowly burns down (towards your face) creates a suction effect, drawing wax out of your ear canal.
This is a MYTH. It doesn’t work, so it is neither effective OR safe.
Candle ear wax removal is not backed by any scientific evidence to support its claims of removing ear wax via suction. To see for yourself, check out this video by Dr Cliff Olson which totally busts the myth that ear candles work!
Not only is it ineffective, but it also poses a number of health and safety risks. The flame itself can cause burns to the face or outer ear, while the hot wax and falling ash can cause burns to the delicate eardrum and singe hairs that line the ear canal. Overall, the risks ear wax candles pose to your health and safety truly outweigh any benefits they may promise.
The safest and most effective way to clear your ear is to consult a dedicated ear health professional. At Earworx, we are home to a brilliant team of highly trained registered nurses who are experts in ear wax removal. Find your nearest Earworx clinic to book an appointment today!