6 Reasons Why You Should Not Use Cotton Buds To Clean Your Ears, According To Experts

6 Reasons Why You Should Not Use Cotton Buds To Clean Your Ears, According To Experts

Earwax is actually good with a lot of antibacterial properties and cleaning it out with a Q-tip is actually bad for you.

Q-tips are our go-to item when we feel like there's an itch in our ears. No amount of tissue or towel can give us the satisfaction a Q-tip can, especially when we need to clean our ears. While we do it to get rid of the wax debris in our ear canal, we do enjoy that feeling of cleaning our ears, don't we?

These soft and gentle products were made to scratch itches inside our ears, and they're the best. But, what if we told you that they're not exactly the perfect item for this purpose? Cotton buds, as a matter of fact, can actually be quite bad for your ears. As reported by WBUR. 




People don't possibly think something this delicate can actually be harmful, so they go ahead and use them to clean the ear wax, but it honestly does more harm than good. Did you know, in very rare cases, you could even get a brain infection from using a cotton bud?

According to Live Science, a man from England contracted a potentially life-threatening infection that not only affected his hearing but also spread to the lining of his brain and caused neurological symptoms. 



He was rushed to the emergency room after experiencing a seizure and collapsing, according to the case report. The man's symptoms started long before his seizure occurred.

He had been experiencing pain and discharge from his left ear for about 10 days prior to the seizure, along with severe headaches. He also seemed to have trouble remembering people's names. The man was soon diagnosed with "necrotizing otitis externa," or an infection in the soft tissue of the external auditory canal.


Doctors performed minor surgery to explore his ear canal, and they were shocked to find the source of the infection was a tip of the cotton bud. The swab was impacted and surrounded by wax and debris, suggesting that it had been there for some time.

After more than two months of proper treatment, the man was discharged from the hospital with no permanent damages to his ears or brain. 



1. It Pushes Wax Further Inside

But, if that wasn't reason enough to stop using cotton buds, then you need to know that they push the wax further in, rather than cleaning it all out. You're pushing it against your eardrums, and if you apply a lot more pressure than you should, there are chances of rupturing your eardrum, and could potentially result in hearing loss.

Also, if at all the cotton at the end does come off, the stick is sharp and you could harm the insides of your ear with it. 


2. There Are Benefits Of Earwax

Earwax is actually good for your ear. The more you keep cleaning your ear out, the higher the chances of it drying out. Earwax, essentially, is full of antibacterial properties. That's what keeps your ears safe from infections, dust and also, the presence of earwax prevents water from staying lodged there.

So, when you keep pushing earwax further down your ear canal, you're causing it to stick together and form a lump, making it even harder to get rid of it. 



3. Earwax Has Self Cleaning Abilities

Believe it or not, earwax has the ability to clear itself out. Whenever you move your jaw, the wax is typically pushed outwards towards the outer ear. Eating, yawning, or even talking for that matter pushes the wax towards the opening of the canal.

Now that you know the benefits of ear wax, you also need to know how to clean them properly, because let's face it, the sight of ear wax in your ear is not really a pleasant one. 



4. Seek Professional Help To Clean Your Ears

The safest way to clean your ears is to visit a doctor as they use specialized instruments to help clean the ear wax or cerumen. By doing this, a doctor can also assess the conditions and let you know if there are any underlying health conditions that need assistance.

When it comes to cleaning your ears the right way, you can use a damp cloth or a paper towel with lukewarm water. Wring out the excess water and then proceed to clean the outer area of your ear. 





5. Opt For Traditional Methods

Traditional ear drops or mineral/ baby oils are another way to get rid of ear wax naturally. Adding a couple of drops of the oil will help loosen the earwax buildup and makes it easier to remove. 






6. Irrigation Procedure To Clean Your Ears

The other method you could try is irrigation. You could buy irrigation kits or just create your own. To start the procedure, warm up the water and ear drop to lukewarm temperature before you apply them. However, it is very important to make sure the solution is not too hot or you may burn yourself. 

To irrigate the ear, simply use a syringe, without the needle and squirt the solution into your ear. Apply ear drops before you use the irrigation, and then let it sit for 15-20 minutes with your head tilted.

You should ideally feel the wax exit your ear canals. Once you're done, switch over to the other side. Please note that if wax still has not come out of your ear after 5 minutes, you should stop for the time being. You should also stop if you begin to get dizzy, or if you start feeling any pain. 


Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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