“Do not insert inside the ear canal.”
While this is clearly stated on every box, cotton swabs, or “Q-tips” as they’re better known, are one of those weird products consumers buy specifically to do the very thing they’re warned to not do with them.
And it’s not just the makers of the Q-tip who cringe at the idea of someone sticking anything smaller than their elbow into their ear. It’s an otolaryngologist’s nightmare.
From punctured eardrums to super impacted wax to infection, there are many negative consequences associated with “do-it-yourself” ear cleaning.
“The ear is designed to be self-cleaning — the skin actually migrates from the center of the eardrum all the way to the outer portion of the ear, pushing out dead skin and wax,” explains Dr. Jane Lea, otolaryngologist, BC Rotary Hearing & Balance Centre at St. Paul’s. “From there, you can just wipe the outside of your ear with a cloth.”
And turns out, ear wax is a good thing.
It kills bacteria. It moistens the skin. And it protects that special migratory skin in your ear canal. So doing things that push the wax further into your ear * cough; using a Q-tip * actually disrupts your body’s natural way of taking care of its own business.
If you’re experiencing discomfort or feeling like your hearing is being disrupted because of wax, it’s time to head to your family doctor and get an exam. It’s possible there’s an underlying issue that requires medical intervention – not a Q-tip!