Why you should stop using cotton buds to clean your ears

Why you should stop using cotton buds to clean your ears

Our ears are vital to our health - and yet, all too often, we don’t take care of them properly. Ear wax is something that builds up naturally in our ears, and which also has a key part to play in keeping our ears healthy. Trying to remove this wax from your ears when it’s simply doing its job can be problematic, especially if you’re using something like cotton buds. In fact, the use of cotton buds can actually do more harm than good when it comes to cleaning your ears.

‘Cleaning’ your ears with cotton buds

We all know how good it can feel to use a cotton bud to get rid of any pesky wax that has built up in the ear and might be making it uncomfortable. While this might give you some momentary relief, it can actually also be the start of bigger problems. All cotton buds do is push ear wax further down into the ear and this can be very damaging. If you end up pushing the wax all the way to the eardrum then it could result in a burst eardrum, for example. You can also create much bigger problems by using cotton buds, as they will push all your earwax into the ear and can cause a blockage that hardens. This could even result in temporary hearing loss.

Cotton buds can damage the inner ear

It’s not just by pushing wax down into the ear that cotton buds can cause harm. Although they may seem soft to the touch of your fingers, in a sensitive space such as the ear they have a lot of potential for damage. If you push one into your ear too hard then you could instantly perforate the eardrum, for example, which is incredibly painful. Scraping the cotton bud along the sensitive inside of your ear can cause bleeding, which is difficult to deal with in the ear, as well as internal bruising. While cotton buds might look like the ideal ear tool, they are actually far from it.

Ear wax is vital for healthy ears

You don’t actually need to get rid of the ear wax in your ears, as this has a key role to play in keeping your ears healthy. Ear wax is part of the system that keeps your ears functioning well, from ensuring your ears are free of bacteria to helping to keep the inner workings of the ears well lubricated. In most cases, our ears will manage earwax naturally and there is no need to remove anything yourself. The exception is where your ears feel blocked, you’re in pain or discomfort - in which case you may need some professional help to correct any issues.

Cotton buds can do a lot of damage to our ears, from bruising to blocking. In most situations they are simply not necessary, as the ears will do a great job of cleaning themselves - as long as we don’t interfere and simply allow earwax to function as it’s supposed to.

Harley Street is the UK's foremost private medical centre which is dedicated to providing high-quality care for your ear, nose, throat, head & neck, and balance-related disorders. Find out more information on how Harley Street ENT can help you here.

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The Harley Street ENT clinic in London can provide all of the care that you need when you have an ear, nose, throat or balance problem. We ensure that you can get all of the right tests, treatments and advice in one convenient place.