On a daily basis I am asked if a Q-Tip is safe to put in the ear. The quick answer is NO!! The most common reason people put Q-Tips in the ear is to remove cerumen, or earwax. Instead of pulling wax out, a Q-tip can actually push wax further in the ear canal. Also, placing a Q-Tip in the ear can potentially puncture the ear drum, which is extremely thin and sensitive. This could cause severe pain, bleeding, and potential hearing loss. The first thing I perform during a hearing examination is otoscopy, or looking in the ears with a light source and magnifying lens to check for wax impaction, the landmarks on the ear drum, and possible infection. People who use Q-Tips often have redness of the canals, wax that is pushed extremely far into the canal, and cotton fibers stuck in their canals.
The first thing to know is that the ear canal is covered by skin that migrates or moves! The skin moves from deep down in the canal towards the opening of the canal. This migration functions as a self-cleaning mechanism. By using Q-Tips, you are negating the natural action of the canal and making it more difficult for wax to come out of the canal. So what should you do to safely clean your ears? NOTHING! If you suspect a wax impaction or have ear pain, you should consult with a specialist such as an Audiologist or an Ear, Nose and Throat physician. Both specialists perform otoscopy and can safely remove debris or wax in the ear on an as needed basis.
When was the last time a specialist looked in your ears?! If it has been over a year, call our office at 443-544-7555 to schedule a complimentary ear canal examination! If you have any questions or would like to discuss ear canal cleaning further, please reply to this post or email us directly at TLC@taylorlisteningcenter.com.