Do Not Clean Your Ears With Cotton Swabs: Here’s Why

Cotton swabs a no-no when it comes to ear cleaning. Photo Credit: Twitter/WCGov110Green

Cleaning with a cotton swab has been the most widely accepted means of evacuating the ears from earwax and other debris.  But, recent studies showed that this may bring more harm than good.  Experts are now suggesting to stop this practice.

According to the new guidelines of the American Academy of Otolaryngology, the removal of earwax using materials like cotton buds could cause hearing damage.  The cotton swab has the tendency to stab the eardrum and even dislocate fragile hearing bones, which can lead to an infection.

Dr. Seth Schwartz, chair of the American Academy of Otolaryngology, says that anything that can fit or get inside the ear can harm the eardrum and ear canal.  And, it can plausibly lead to an infection that is temporary or permanent, reports HealthAim.

More often than not, manual ear cleaning using a cotton swab can cause pain, itching, feeling of fullness, ringing in the ears or tinnitus, hearing loss and an unpleasant smell.  This has been an old practice because people have associated earwax with poor hygiene, says Dr. Schwartz.  But, little do they know, that the ear has the ability to clean itself.  

There is no need to get rid of ear wax: Here’s why

The body produces earwax to keep the ears clean, lubricated and protected.  Dirt and dust particles that enter the ear sticks to the wax.  This prevents the particles to move farther down the ear canal.  The usual mechanical motions like eating and talking helps move the earwax embedded inside to the outside of the ears, where they get washed off during bathing, according to the CNN.

Patients are now learning to get more interested in doing their own care.  So, when the new guidelines came out, about 50,000 people downloaded it.  Apparently, ear cleaning has been a very important routine for almost everyone.  The guidelines also include the Do’s and Dont’s in ear cleaning, as well as tips on what to do for impacted earwax.  

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About the author

An avid reader, traveler, and earth enthusiast, Rubelle has two permanent roles: a daughter and a wife. But she wants to be a mother too. For the meantime, she works for Red Cross and writes articles for Morning Ledger to keep her busy.