How can I prevent excessive earwax?

Arlen D. Meyers, MD
Ear, Nose & Throat (Otolaryngology)

The type of earwax you have is genetically determined. Some have wax that is dry and brittle and others have wax that is soft. Wax has antibacterial properties and leaves the ear canal naturally by a conveyor belt mechanism that moves the wax from the ear drum level to the outside opening. If you traumatize the ear canal by using Q tips or something else, you damage that mechanism and actually can cause more wax to accumulate. So, here are some tips:

  1. Don't stick Q tips any further than the outside opening of the ear canal. Don't push them into the canal
  2. Use a lubricant like baby oil or mineral oil to loosen wax and give it time to come out on its own.
  3. If you notice pain and drainage, you might have an external ear canal infection (swimmer's ear), so see a doctor.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.