Earwax, known medically as cerumen, is a flaky or waxy substance produced by the ears. It is made up of oil, sweat and dead skin cells, and its job is to moisturize the ear canals and trap dirt and other debris. Though some find earwax unsightly, it is the sign of a healthy ear. We review everything you need to know about earwax below.
What Does the Color of My Earwax Mean?
- White, flaky earwax. This often indicates your body lacks a chemical associated with body odor.
- Yellow or orange earwax. This is normal, healthy earwax. Most children have soft yellow or orange earwax.
- Brown earwax. This is also normal, but indicates the earwax is older and contains more dirt.
- Red-tinged earwax. This could indicate an injury in the ear.
Do I Need to Remove Earwax?
Earwax works its way out of the ears on its own through natural jaw movements when talking, chewing and yawning. In most cases, it does not need to be removed.
If you do want to remove excess earwax, you can use eardrops from Key Health Pharmacy to soften it, then irrigate your ears in the shower.
Never stick cotton swabs, hair pins, tweezers or other pointy objects inside the ear in an attempt to remove earwax. Not only does this usually result in pushing wax further in, you risk puncturing your eardrum.
The only time earwax needs to be removed is if it’s impacted.
What Are the Signs of Impacted Earwax?
According to one article, “Earwax is more likely to accumulate and cause a hearing impairment when normal extrusion is prevented (for example, by hearing aids or by the use of cotton buds to clean the ears).”
Signs of impacted earwax include:
- Itchy ear
- Feeling of fullness in the ear
- Odor or discharge from the ear
- Ear infection
- Hearing loss
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
How Do I Remove Impacted Earwax?
Impacted earwax needs to be removed by an ear expert. If you’re experiencing the symptoms listed above, call Arizona Desert Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists to schedule an appointment to have it professionally and safely removed.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Arizona Desert Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists today.