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Q-Tips: The Ugly Truth About Cleaning Ears

 In Cleaning Ears, Ear Health, Q-Tips

Your ear is a very important, delicate structure.

Therefore, using instruments such as Q-Tips, bobby pins, pen caps, and even your fingernail can upset this very delicate balance creating itchy ears, infections, holes in the ear drum and impacted wax.

Wax, also known as cerumen, has an acidity and consistency that helps keep dirt and bacteria from contaminating your ear.

The majority of the population doesn’t need to have their ears cleaned. Our ears are designed to expel wax naturally.

The outer one third of your ear canal produces wax, so, if there is any wax on your ear drum it is because you are sticking something in your ear.

The normal movements of the jaw; chewing, talking etc. will allow the wax to expel on its own without any damage to your ear canal or ear drum.

Which leads us to the Q-Tip…

Although a brilliant design, that clean white tip is actually removing a very important substance and setting your ear up for trauma; packing the wax in further onto your ear drum.

Q-tips, when laid out in rows, as in clothing, are soft, however when it is piled on top of a stick it becomes abrasive and is damaging your ear canals.

The cotton makes small micro-abrasions in the canal subjecting your tissue to all sorts of bad germs, setting you up for an infection and or itchy ears.

The act of using a Q-Tip creates a vicious cycle.

You remove the wax because it is satisfying and you feel “clean” however, the ear becomes itchy so, you use the Q-Tip again.

This cycle that cannot be stopped unless you simply quit using Q-Tips.


It takes approximately 6 to 8 weeks for your ear canals to coat with wax after ceasing use of Q-Tips.

The only time wax needs to be taken out is if it is creating a hearing loss.

Any wax removal should be done by an ear professional. The equipment used allows providers to get a very close-up view of the ear canal and ear drum.

We are able to remove wax in a safe manner without damaging the very delicate balance of your ears.

Now say a long with us: wax is an essential substance vital to the health of your ears. It is protective and not to be removed.

If you are experiencing a hearing loss, or would like to clean some excessive ear wax build-up, contact the Office of Dr Mark Syms by phone at 602.307.9919.

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