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Put Down That Q-Tip!

Posted on August 28, 2018 by Valley Medical Group

Cotton swabs are good for many things, but cleaning your ears is not one of them. Why? Because ears generally clean themselves. Earwax (or cerumen) is healthy in normal amounts and serves as a self-cleaning agent with protective, lubricating and antibacterial properties.
You may be tempted to use a cotton swab to try to remove ear wax, but that can make things much worse. A cotton swab can puncture your eardrum, scrape your ear canal or even push the wax further down into your ear canal. 
Ideally, the ear canals should never have to be cleaned — they usually do a good job of cleaning themselves and don’t require extra care. 
There are occasions when wax build up can cause problems. See a doctor if you develop one or more of the following symptoms:
Earache, fullness in the ear or a sensation that the ear is plugged up
Partial hearing loss
Ringing or noises in the ear
Itching odor or discharge
If your problem isn’t serious but you do feel like you have a bit of wax buildup, you can gently clean the outside of your ears with a washcloth. You can also try putting a few drops of baby oil, mineral oil or glycerin in your ear to soften the wax.
Valley Medical Group offers walk-in care at several area locations. Find a walk-in center one near you.  


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