Ear & Hearing

About Ear Wax

Having earwax (cerumen) is normal. In the healthy state, the ear canal is self-cleaning with slow and orderly migration of earwax towards the opening of the ear. However, if this self-cleaning mechanism is disrupted, the buildup of earwax may cause problems for some patients. This includes obstruction of the ear canal, impaired hearing and even pain if there is impaction or concurrent infection.

Some common reasons for the buildup of wax include conditions which affect the skin and type of earwax produced e.g. eczema of the ear or disruption of the migration of wax e.g incorrect use of cotton earbuds. Often, there is no obvious cause.

Impacted ear wax is best removed under direct microscopic visualisation with specialised ear instruments (otomicroscopic clearance). This also allows your ENT surgeon to identify other conditions that may be mistaken for simple ear wax such as eczema of the ear and keratosis obturans.

This avoids the risk of damaging the eardrum or the skin of the ear canal. Other methods of cleaning ear wax are not encouraged due to the risk of inadvertent injury.