People may have been told that Q-Tips are harmful for cleansing on the inside the ears, yet if you’re just like me, you were most likely never ever informed the reason why it is so negative for your own ears. It’s a thing we have performed for decades, and it generally seems fine to do, why wouldn’t we all? Well it turns out that these tiny fluffy tools can in fact harm your ear canal in ways that you may not have actually considered.
When you use a Q-Tip to clean your ears, there’s the more known risk that you can push the Q-Tip too far into your ear, potentially damaging the inside of it. However this isn’t the only risk you take when you use Q-Tips to clean out your ear wax. According to William H. Shapiro, who is a trained audiologist and a clinical associate professor at NYU Langone, Q-Tips can actually push the ear wax further inside the ear canal, instead of cleaning it out.
The pushed back ear wax can build up causing an obstruction, but it can also sit up against the eardrum which will hamper its ability vibrate which is how you hear sounds. In fact as Shapiro explains in the video, ear wax isn’t actually the bad thing we’ve all been taught. It helps keep insects, dust and debris out of your ears which can damage your eardrum.
That’s not all that ear wax benefits you with, either. The ear wax helps lubricate your ear canal which helps it not feeling itchy. If you’ve cleaned your ears a lot you may find yourself with itchy ears that you end up cleaning with a Q-Tip to help stop the itch. However the reason your ear is itchy is because there isn’t enough ear wax!
The ear wax is what keeps the skin in your ear all happy and healthy, preventing it from getting itchy and uncomfortable. When the Q-Tip cleans the ear wax out, it’s drying out the skin in your ear, causing it to feel itchy. Ear wax is antibacterial which means that it also helps stop bacteria that can cause you to get sick! I never knew how many uses the ear wax has in your ear!
So what should we do about ear wax? William H. Shapiro advises that no one should clean their own ears, actually.
It’s not a bad thing to have wax, but individuals should never take the wax out themselves.
To give context, your body has a natural system that moves the ear wax on a conveyor belt-like mechanism. Effectively, when you do everyday tasks like talking or eating, your ear will naturally push any excess wax out towards the edge of your ear, where it will fall out on its own, or when you shower. Dr. Peter Svider puts it best in his interview with TIME.
For 99% of people, that conveyor belt mechanism works well
For the people where their ear wax builds up too much and causes obstructions in the ear canal should consult an ear doctor who will help professionally remove the excess ear wax.
Personally I always used to clean my ears whenever I showered but thanks to the advice of these professionals I will no longer be doing that! I had no idea ear wax had so much importance!