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Cotton swabs…not for your ears!

Published on October 21, 2014 at 14:41 / Updated on May 17, 2019 at 15:04

We usually associate cotton swabs, commonly called Q-tips, with cleaning our ears. Nevertheless, we should definitely abandon this practice.

The natural viscous secretions found in the ear canal, called cerumen (earwax), are composed of a mixture of oil and dead cells, and their production varies greatly from one person to another. Cerumen protects the external ear canal by a mechanical action (the evacuation of particles towards the outside of the ear), and a chemical action (it has antibacterial properties). Hence, we should not try to remove cerumen at all cost, as its presence inside the ear canal is normal and healthy. When it reaches the entrance of the ear canal, it can be cleaned quite safely.

Using cotton swabs to clean inside our ears is not without hazard, and is often the cause of perforated eardrums in adults. Furthermore, using cotton swabs stimulates the development of otitis externa (swimmer’s ear) by modifying the acidic pH of the external ear canal. Using these little sticks can also lead to the formation of earwax plugs.

You like to keep your ears squeaky clean? Clean them with a warm facecloth, but please, leave cotton swabs out of the process! You can clean the external ear with your pinky finger, the corner of a towel, or a washcloth soaked with a little warm, soapy water. This will be enough to make sure your ears are kept very clean…and healthy!

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