ZocdocAnswersCan you clean your ears too much?

Question

Can you clean your ears too much?

Sometimes I think that I clean my ears to much. I use a q-tip and kleenex and my towel after the shower and I clean them a lot throughout the day. Could that be bad for my ears? Can you clean them too much sometimes?

Answer

The amount of wax production in the ears varies a lot from person to person. Some people produce a lot of wax, and those people may need to clean their ears more frequently than others. However, it is very important to clean your ears in a way that is not potentially damaging to them. In particular, you should never insert cotton swabs or any other objects directly into the ear. This tends to have the inadvertent effect of jamming any wax in the ear canal further into the ear up against the ear drum. Also, you run the risk of damaging or perforating the ear drum with this technique. Safe methods of cleaning the ears include cleaning around the outside of the ear canal with cotton swabs or tissue. If you wish to clean the inside of the ear canal, you should do this by gently irrigating the ear (for example, with warm water and a bit of hydrogen peroxide) or by using wax softening drops, which you can buy in your local pharmacy. Once again, avoid sticking things like cotton swabs into the ear canal! I recommend seeing your primary care doctor and addressing any further questions you might have.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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