Earwax (medically: cerumen) is a natural substance produced by glands in the ear canal. This substance has protective, lubricating and antibacterial properties and its main work is to protect the ears from bacteria and other external agents.
Usually, there is a slow and orderly migration process inside the ear canal in which earwax and skin cells are transported from the eardrum to the ear opening, where it can be removed. But, if there is a blockage or impaction of earwax, there can be problems. It can accumulate deep inside the ear canal. That happens mostly as a result of using objects like bobby pins, Q-tips or cotton swabs, which in the end push the wax deep inside the ear.
You should know that people who use ear plugs or hearing aids are more prone to earwax blockage.
Narrowing of the ear canal resulting from some kind of infection or disease of the skin, bones or connective tissue can also be the reason for the buildup of excessive earwax.
Other reason may be the production of a less fluid form of cerumen or overproduction of cerumen because of some trauma or blockage within the ear canal. Deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and magnesium can also produce more earwax.
Earache, feeling of fullness in the ear, an uncomfortable sensation in the ear, noises in the ear (tinnitus), temporary hearing loss and itching are signs of accumulation of excessive earwax. Your family physician or an ear specialist can help you remove the earwax, or you can do it with ear drops and wax removal kits that you can buy in the market.
But, there are also a lot of simple natural remedies to remove hardened earwax. Do not use these remedies if you have a perforated ear drum and get the problem treated by a professional.
Here are the top 10 home remedies to remove earwax:
Salt water is the best solution. It can soften the wax accumulated inside the ear and make it easy to remove.
Mix one teaspoon of salt in one-half cup of warm water until the salt dissolves completely and then soak a cotton ball in the saline solution.
Tilt the affected ear up toward the sky. Squeeze the cotton ball to put a few drops of the saline water into the ear. Stay in that position for 3-5 minutes and after that tilt your head in the opposite direction to allow the saline water to drain out.
Clean the outer part of your ear with a clean cloth to remove the softened wax.
Because of its effervescent property, hydrogen peroxide can remove the earwax from the ear canal very easily.
Mix equal parts of hydrogen peroxide (3 percent) and water and fill an ear dropper with this mixture. Tilt your head sideways and put a few drops of this solution into the ear.
Leave it for some time, and then tilt your head towards the opposite side to drain out the solution. Remove the wax that you can see near the outer ear with clean cloth.
Fill an ear dropper with baby oil. Lean the affected ear toward the sky and put two to five drops of the baby oil into the ear. Put a cotton ball at the ear opening to prevent oil from oozing out.
Leave it for several minutes and afterwards remove the cotton ball and tilt your head the opposite direction to drain out the extra oil. Clean the ear opening with a soft cloth. You can also use mineral oil instead of baby oil.
Vinegar and Rubbing Alcohol
Another remedy to remove excess wax from your ear is vinegar and rubbing alcohol solution. It will help dissolve the earwax plus, the alcohol will serve as a drying agent and evaporate at a low temperature and the vinegar will fight bacteria and fungi, and hence prevent any kind of ear infection.
Mix equal parts of white vinegar and rubbing alcohol in a bowl. Soak a cotton ball in the solution. Tilt the affected ear toward the sky and squeeze two or three drops of this mixture into the ear. Wait for 5 minutes and lean your head to the opposite direction so that everything comes out. Remove the earwax from the outer ear with an ear bud.
The gentle force of the water will dislodge the wax and make it easier to remove. Be careful and use only clean and filtered water.
Fill a rubber-bulb syringe with slightly warm water (body temperature). Tilt your head upright and pull the outer ear to straighten the ear canal.
Put a small amount of water into the ear canal with the syringe, leave it like that for a minute and then drain it out by leaning your head to the opposite side. Clean the water and earwax that has come out of the ear with a clean cloth.
Olive oil can soften the wax, making it easier to come out of the ear and its antiseptic properties will reduce the risk of ear infection.
Slightly warm some olive oil. Get a dropper and put three or four drops of the warm oil into the affected ear. Leave it like that for 10 minutes, so that the earwax becomes soft. Lean your head sideways and remove the oil and wax with ear buds. You can also use mustard oil.
This oil serves as a lubricant and softener for wax, making it easy for you to clear wax build up in the ear.
Take room temperature almond oil and fill an ear dropper with it.
Tilt the affected ear upward, put five drops of almond oil in the ear and stay in that position for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the oil to soak into the hardened wax. After that, place a tissue over the oiled ear and lean to the other side to drain out the excess oil as well as the wax. Clean out the ear and wax with a soft cloth.
A water-based mixture that contains 10 percent baking soda can soften hardened wax.
Mix one-fourth teaspoon of baking soda with two teaspoons of water.
Tilt your head and put several drops of this solution in the affected ear, wait for 10 minutes and then flush warm water gently into the ear with a rubber-bulb syringe.
Lean your head toward the opposite direction to drain out the excess solution as well as the dissolved earwax. Clean your outer ear with a soft cloth.
The lubricating and moisturizing nature of glycerin will help loosen impacted wax.
Tilt your head toward the sky and put three or four drops of glycerin in your ear. Put a cotton ball at the opening of your ear and leave it for a few hours.
Then remove the cotton ball and gently flush warm water in your ear. Lean your head in the opposite direction to drain out the water completely. Gently dry the outer ear with a towel or a handheld hair dryer.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids can help solve the problem of excess wax accumulating inside the ear. Take a high quality omega-3 supplement. Be aware to consult your doctor for the correct dosage.
Also include foods rich in omega-3 like walnuts, cod liver oil, avocados, salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring albacore and ground flaxseed in your diet.
Some Additional Tips
- Don’t use any pointed objects inside the ears as it can lead to ear infection.
- Avoid inserting cotton swabs or ear buds into the ear canal.
- Don’t use candle ear wax remover because it can burn the inside of your ear and cause more serious issues.
- Don’t use cold water to drain out the excess earwax as it can cause dizziness.
- Don’t spray water or any liquid inside the ear with force because it can damage the inner ear and ear drums.
- Do not put hot oil in the ears as it can burn the skin inside the ear or ear drum and lead to ear infection.
- Don’t use Q-tips to remove substantial buildup in the ear as it can actually push earwax deep into the canal.
- Do not clean your ears too often or too hard.
- If you are unable to remove the wax with these remedies, visit your doctor. You should also visit your doctor if you have symptoms like drainage from the ear, acute ear pain, fever and hearing loss, that continue after you clean out the wax build up.