Can I Clean Cerumen with a Cotton Bud?

What do you do when you feel itchy ears? Maybe the majority will use a cotton bud (cotton stick), to clean the ears. However, is this method actually safe and effective for dealing with dirty ears? Before that, it's good to know what earwax actually is.

Serum definition

Earwax (cerumen) is the product of the glands of the ear canal, skin discharge and dust particles. Cerumen itself is not pure dirt, because cerumen has many benefits for the body so its existence is also needed. For example, the characteristic odor of cerumen has a protective function so that insects do not enter the ear. Cerumen has a density that varies from slightly liquid, soft, to dry or hard. This density is influenced by climate, age, environmental conditions and heredity. The color of cerumen is usually dark brown. If it is whitish and feels itchy then it is suspected of being a fungus. If it is in the form of pus or mucus that comes out then an infection is suspected. Cerumen is generally produced in the outer 1/3 of the ear canal, but it can be pushed, expanded, so that it closes the ear canal and mild to moderate deafness occurs.

Is it necessary to clean cerumen?

Cerumen under normal conditions will not cause disturbances or complaints. Basically, the ear has a self-cleaning method that is assisted by the movement of the jaw when chewing, and is rinsed with water when bathing. You don't need to scrape it using a cotton bud (cotton stick) or ear candling , this scraping action can actually cause the eardrum to rupture.

For how to clean your ears, you just need to dry the outside with a dry towel or dry tissue because usually wax can move by itself from the ear canal to the outside of the ear. However, sometimes the cerumen cannot get out and instead settles in the ear.

What to do when cerumen accumulates in the ear?

Based on survey results in Indonesia, 30-50% of elementary school-age children (especially grades 1-3) experience conditions where cerumen settles and interferes with hearing and the learning process. For tough wax, you can use softening ear drops such as phenol glycerol to soften and clear wax from the ear canal. Apart from softening ear drops, the method of spraying (irrigating) the ear canal using warm water or sodium bicarbonate solution to prevent secondary infections can also be done, but for this method it is better to consult an ENT doctor first.

To prevent cerumen from accumulating in the ears, avoid the habit of picking at the ears to clean the ear canals. This action can actually stimulate the production of more cerumen, infection when cleaning the ear with a cotton bud , and can even cause the eardrum to rupture. If you like listening to music using earphones , it's best to avoid using them for long periods of time. Using earphones is very risky to push the cerumen inside, then the wax becomes hard and difficult to clean.

In addition to the precautions above, parents or teachers must always be active to check their children's ear canals. If you see dirt, immediately visit an ENT doctor. Avoid picking at your ears if you feel itching or other disturbances. You can consult about ear, nose and throat (ENT) problems with Dr. Edo Wira Candra, M.Kes, Sp.THT-KL who practices at EMC Sentul Hospital on Tuesdays & Saturdays at 08:00 - 10:00 WIB, and on Wednesdays & Fridays at 08:00 - 15:00 WIB.

Let's take care of the health of your ears and your family, avoid picking your ears with cotton buds, and reduce the use of earphones that are too long. #LiveExcellently