Cerumen (more commonly know as earwax) protects the ear from dust, dirt, hair and skin irritation, and lowers the risk of infection. But sometimes this wax builds up in the ear and blocks the ear canal, causing :

  • Hearing loss
  • Tinnitus
  • Ear aches
  • Infection

Earwax is best removed by a doctor

Doctors have a variety of methods for removing ear wax:

  • Using small curved instruments called curets
  • Suction whilst inspecting the ear
  • Flushing the wax out using a water pick or syringe filled with warm water
  • Wax-removal medications

Home remedies

Do not dig earwax out with foreign objects or a cotton bud as you can push the wax deeper into the ear canal, or damage the canal or eardrum.

Do not attempt ear candling or ear coning – research has shown it doesn’t work and can cause burns, ear canal obstructions or perforations.

Try using a few drops of warm water, olive oil or 1:1 ratio of water and hydrogen peroxide to soften the wax.

  • Use a damp cotton ball to apply the drops
  • Tilt head and point affected ear upward for several minutes
  • This will allow the drops to soften the wax blockage
  • Then tilt head down to allow the fluid and earwax to drain from the affected ear

Visit your doctor if you have a regular buildup of ear wax.

Last Reviewed: 24/07/2019

myDr