Earwax, or cerumen, is a normal, natural substance that helps keep ears healthy.
Earwax helps prevent debris, dirt, and other objects from entering the ear canal and preventing infection. In fact, the ear is self-cleaning, and the old earwax, along with the dead skin cells, moves from the inside of the ear to the ear canal, where it falls out.
Earwax can be shades of yellow, white, brown, or even black. It can be soft, hard and rough. Depending on a number of variables, earwax varies widely.
Normally, when earwax accumulates, it is squeezed out of the ear. Sometimes our bodies overproduce earwax, especially when we’re stressed or scared. If there is too much production and it does not leave the ear, it causes a blockage.
Common colors of earwax
There are two common types of ear wax.
yellow-brown in color with a tendency to be wet
The color of earwax can vary depending on a person’s ethnicity and health.
One study found that dry earwax is more common among people of East Asian descent. Wet earwax is common among people of other ethnicities. This is due to a mutation in a gene that helps moisturize the earwax.
Earwax and other types of earwax do exist, so don’t panic if they change color and texture over time.
How to remove ear wax at home
There is no reason to put anything in the ear to remove earwax. Earwax only builds up in the outer third of the ear canal. Using things like bobby pins or cotton swabs to “clean” earwax can push the earwax out and cause the earwax to absorb.
Ear candling is considered another way to remove earwax, but this method is not recommended because it is not a successful treatment and can cause serious burns and injuries.
How to clean ears at home
In most cases, there is no need for special cleaning of the ear and removal of earwax.
To clean the ear, it is enough to wash the outside of the ear with a soft towel; nothing needs to be done internally.
How to remove large amounts of earwax
Home remedies are often effective if there is a small build-up in the ear. You can add a couple of drops of baby cream or ear drops to help soften and remove the wax.
The day after using the drops, pour warm water into the ear using a rubber syringe. Tilt your head and pull your outer ear up and back, says the Mayo Clinic. This will straighten the ear canal and help drain the earwax.
When done, tilt your head again to let the water out. This may need to be repeated over several days depending on the level of build-up. If your symptoms do not improve, see your doctor.