You’ve likely seen them -- or maybe you’ve avoided them! Videos tagged with #earwax have had billions of views on TikTok. They show people going to extreme measures to remove earwax.
Eww, right? And some of the ways people are cleaning their own ears, probably has you asking: Why would they do that and is it safe?
“We saw such high interest in this topic and when we looked into it, we found a wide range of products that made us wonder how a consumer should approach all of this,” said Consumer Reports Health Editor Catherine Roberts.
There’s “candling,” where a waxed fabric tube is inserted into the ear, and when lit, the heat supposedly draws debris from inside the ear.
You can buy mini scoops to clean out your ears; some are even equipped with a camera so you can view what’s happening on your phone.
Maybe you’ve seen the soft drill-shaped devices that claim you can twist the wax out of your ear canal? Or the one that looks like a wire whisk?
If you’re considering getting one of these products, Emergency Room Physician Dr. Mauricio Gonzalez says, don’t.
“We do not recommend any clearing with any devices or in any shape or form,” he said.
As for candling, the FDA says to “stay away” and has warned consumers of the risk of burns or injury to the inner ear.
But at the end of the day, the question is this: Do you really need to remove ear wax?
Doctors say ear wax actually helps limit bacteria in your ears. However, if you have hardened wax, or your body produces an unusual amount, you can use over-the-counter ear drops to soften it up and make it easier to wash out. But most people don’t have to do anything at all. (Photo – 2 options)
“Every time you chew, and you move your jaw, this movement by itself expels the excess of earwax out of your ears. If you feel like there’s something in your outer canal a light cloth should be more enough -- especially after taking a shower,” Dr. Gonzalez explained.
The ear wax you should clean out is the wax that builds up in your listening devices, like earbuds. Consumer Reports recommends you do it once a month because not only will it keep them less gross, but your earbuds might actually last longer. Consumer Reports suggests you use a soft toothbrush for the detail work.