You’ve surely heard the warnings against using Q-tips and ear candling to remove earwax, but you may still be wondering how to get rid of the unsightly substance before your date at Hampton Park. Many sources online say you can use hydrogen peroxide to help remove earwax; however, if you choose this option, make sure to exercise caution.
What Is Earwax, Anyway?
Earwax is a substance produced by the ceruminous glands in the ear canal that has several important jobs. Earwax keeps the ear canal lubricated to prevent dryness and irritation, and it also traps dirt and debris to prevent infection. Typically, earwax is naturally pushed out of the ear thanks to natural jaw movements when talking and eating.
In some cases, earwax can become impacted. People who use hearing aids, frequently wear earbuds, swab their ears with Q-tips or have a structural abnormality of the ear canal are especially prone to impacted earwax, but it can happen to anybody. Signs of impaction include earache, itchiness, drainage, infection, dizziness, tinnitus and hearing loss.
Impacted earwax should ideally only be removed by a hearing professional.
How Safe Is Hydrogen Peroxide?
Over-the-counter (OTC) eardrops may contain various types of hydrogen peroxide and other substances that work together to soften earwax. Carbamide peroxide, a common form of hydrogen peroxide ear drops, releases oxygen into the earwax, causing it to bubble and soften.
Hydrogen peroxide-based eardrops have a good safety profile when used properly. Look for concentrations under 10%; most OTC hydrogen peroxide solutions contain 3% hydrogen peroxide, and most OTC ear drops contain 6.5% carbamide peroxide. Anything over 10% may cause irritation such as blistering and burning.
Make sure to read the directions on the package carefully, and listen to your doctor’s instructions. In general, you should use five to ten drops in each ear no more than twice per day for four days. Excess peroxide and earwax can be flushed out with warm water in the shower or using a bulb syringe.
Some people experience side effects of using hydrogen peroxide in the ears, including:
- Fizzing/bubbling sensation
- Pain in the ear
- Hearing loss
- Bitter taste
Do not use hydrogen peroxide in your ear if you suspect you have an ear infection or damaged eardrum.
For more information about impacted earwax or to schedule an appointment for earwax removal, call the experts at Charleston ENT & Allergy today.