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Should you use Q-tips to clean your ears?

q tips hear cleaning

Take a look in your bathroom cabinet, and you’re sure to find some typical toiletry essentials. Soap for handwashing, a toothbrush and toothpaste for dental care, perhaps some shaving foam and a razor too. And what about ear cleaning? Most of us turn to our trusty little Q-tips. But what if we told you that despite seeming ideal for getting into our narrow ear canals, doctors do not recommend Q-tips for cleaning your ears? The fact is that these inoffensive-looking cotton swabs are not only ineffective, but they can also hurt you and damage your hearing.
So, let’s look into this commonly misunderstood bathroom essential and find out more about the dos and don’ts when it comes to ear-cleaning.

Why aren't Q-tips suitable for cleaning your ears?

Q-tips have many uses, such as applying make-up, cleaning narrow, tricky-to-reach places around the home and even for arts and crafts projects. Many of us also use them as part of our daily routine to clean out our ears. In fact, their original purpose when they were invented around 100 years ago was just that: cleaning ears. However, medicine has come a long way since then, and today’s medical professionals strongly recommend against inserting any Q-tip-like item into your ear.

Why?

Because putting a cotton swab into your ear pushes earwax further down the ear canal and towards your eardrum. This can lead to the wax hardening and getting stuck, eventually building up and creating an obstruction, also known as an impaction. Earwax buildup is uncomfortable, and can cause symptoms such as itchy, sore ears, loss of hearing and even ear infections.
If that wasn’t enough, you could easily cause an accidental injury by using a Q-tip inside your ear. Your highly delicate eardrum and ear canal can be damaged by even the softest-tipped cotton swabs, leading to punctured eardrums and bleeding ear canals. These are both very painful injuries that can result in temporary and permanent hearing loss.

How should you clean your ears?

You may be surprised to learn that you don’t actually need to clear earwax out from inside your ears. If left alone, earwax should work its way out by itself, and enough water enters your ear during a shower to clear any accumulated earwax. However, if you notice a little earwax on your outer ear and want to get rid of it, you can gently wipe it away with a warm washcloth. The key is never to insert anything into your ear.

Getting rid of earwax buildup

You may get a buildup of earwax at some point. In fact, some people experience this more often than others, for many reasons. There are several at-home remedies, some of which are ineffective and potentially harmful. As we’ve seen, using a Q-tip to scrape out earwax often has the opposite effect and pushes it further down. Other methods medical professionals caution against are ear candling and home vacuum toolkits. 

So, what should you do if you find a buildup of earwax and want to get rid of it? For mild cases, your pharmacist should be able to show you various types of ear drops, which can be used three to four times a day over a course of a few days.

For heavy wax buildup or if you feel unsure about using ear drops, contact your local professional earwax removal service. Hear Right Canada has over 50 centres where our friendly professionals offer a quick, safe procedure to remove that excess wax. 

Get in touch with your local Hear Right Canada Clinic

Hear Right Canada can help you deal with excess earwax and earwax buildup. Our team of experts are on hand to assist with earwax removal and management services to ensure you get the best possible treatment for you and your hearing. So, don’t waste your time or put yourself at risk with ineffective at-home remedies; contact us today to find out more.

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