Why are Cotton Swabs Bad for Ears?

Woman Touching Ear

If you want to keep your ears in good health, then you need to take great care of them. A huge part of this is ear cleaning. Everyone has earwax in their ears, and it’s usually not a bad thing. However, when too much builds up, you need to get rid of it.

What do the majority of people do when this happens? They reach for some cotton swabs and insert them into their ear to give them a good clean. When you withdraw the swabs, it seems like you’ve done a great job and thoroughly cleaned your ears. On the contrary, you may be doing more harm than good as cotton swabs are actually bad for the ears. Let’s look at why.

Cotton swabs push earwax deeper into the canal

You may believe that your cotton swabs are getting rid of your earwax, but they’re actually just pushing it deeper into your ear canal. This is problematic for many reasons. First, you could end up driving the earwax all the way to your eardrum. This can then result in a burst eardrum or ear infections. Secondly, you could push the wax so deep into your ear that it becomes blocked and will harden. As a result, you may suffer temporary hearing loss and require a trip to your audiologist to sort things out.

Cotton swabs can damage your inner ear

As mentioned, cotton swabs can push earwax deep into the ear canal which wreaks havoc on everything inside. But, the swabs themselves are extremely dangerous and can damage your inner ear. All it takes is one wrong move, and you can have a perforated eardrum coupled with a lot of pain. Furthermore, you could scrape the side of your ear canal or forcibly push against it to the point where you cause bleeding or internal bruising, neither of which are very pleasant to deal with.

We need wax in our ears

Lastly, it may surprise some of you to know that earwax is an essential part of our ears. We need this wax to help lubricate the ear and get rid of any bacteria. In a working ear, any wax will basically just clean itself. As such, there’s absolutely no need to use cotton buds to clean them as you’re just trying to get rid of something that you need. The only time you need to clean your inner ears is when the wax gets too hard and doesn't remove itself. When this happens, you will feel discomfort, ringing in your ears, and they feel blocked up. From here, you call your audiologist, and they can schedule an appointment to free up the wax using non-risky methods.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that cotton swabs are great for cleaning your ears. In reality, you can just use water and some tissue to wipe your outer ear, then let your inner ears clean themselves. If you ever feel like you have too much wax building up, then contact your audiologist for ear cleaning treatment.


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