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Q-tip Usage: Good or Bad?

Woman using a q-tipQ-tips or cotton swabs, are commonly used as a quick way to remove wax from the ear. They are easy to use and convenient; but the truth is, they can actually cause more harm than good.

Q-tips can push wax further into the ear canal, which can cause impaction, discomfort, or a rupture in the ear drum. If the wax gets pushed too far into the ear canal, it could require surgical intervention. If left untreated, long-term complications can even lead to infections or hearing loss.'

“Because of the shape of your ear canal, pushing a cotton swab into your ear will remove a small amount of wax, but push a larger amount further down the canal. Over time, this causes cerumen to build up and eventually it can dry up and totally block the ear canal,” said Dr. Lindsay Bondurant, director of the Pennsylvania Ear Institute.

What many people don’t realize is that ear wax is good for you. The wax lubricates the delicate skin in your ear, keeping it moisturized. It can also stop debris like bugs or dirt from entering the ear. Additionally, studies show that wax has antibacterial properties that can help keep infections away from the ear canal.

Most people don’t need to do anything to remove ear wax beyond their daily shower routine. It is important to note that some people do overproduce ear wax though and may need to have the wax professionally removed by an audiologist. Wax is usually removed through one of three methods: irrigation, suction, or instrumentation.  

To schedule an appointment with one of our audiologists, please call 215.780.3180.