Earwax, medically referred to as cerumen, is naturally produced by specific glands in the ear, and its main purpose is to ensure that the ears remain clean and free from germs. The wax has excellent protective properties that prevent the entry of bacteria and foreign objects into the inner year. In addition to this, the wax also has antibacterial and lubricating properties. Usually, there is an orderly procedure through which the wax is transferred from the inner ear to the ear canal from where it can be removed with ease. At this point, the wax is often mixed with skin cells, giving it its characteristic appearance.
This, however, does not always happen in this order, leading to the accumulation of wax in the ears. Part of the reason why the wax accumulates is the use of foreign objects that push it further deeper into the ear. Such objects include bobby pins, cotton swabs, Q-tips and any other foreign object. Additionally, the use of hearing aids and ear plugs has also been shown to contribute to the blockage of the ear canal. Other reasons why earwax may accumulate in the ear include ear infections, trauma to the ear as well as deficiency in certain nutrients that lead to the overproduction of the wax.
Earwax blockage is characterized by symptoms such as fullness in the ear, ringing sensations, excessive itchiness as well as temporary hearing loss in the affected ear. To prevent this from causing further discomfort, ear medication is available in liquid form to ease the blockage. In this regard, there are a number of simple home remedies that you can use to unblock the ears and eliminate the hardened wax from the canal. The most important consideration to make is to ensure that the ear drums are not perforated as the use of home remedies could cause further damage to the ears. In this case, make sure to get checked by a professional.
NOTE: For the home remedies to be effective, you need to use them severally over a period of time. The period of recovery is dependent on the extent of the wax accumulation. Secondly, monitor carefully the progress made following the use of these remedies. If the symptoms do not ease after a considerable period of time, make sure you get medical check-up. Lastly, do not use any of these remedies if you have a perforated eardrum; instead, seek medical advice.
1. Warm Salty Water:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 1 Teaspoon of salt, 1/2 a cup of warm water, cotton wool and a soft towel.
Warm salty water is one of the simplest home remedies for earwax removal. This remedy softens the accumulated wax, and allows it to migrate to the ear canal where it is easily removed. Salt also has the benefit of antiseptic healing properties which help eliminate any foreign objects from the ear. Warm water is recommended because it has a soothing effect on the affected ear. You will need some cotton wool to soak and add the drops of salty water to the affected ears as described in the steps below.
- Place the teaspoon of salt in a glass and add the warm water.
- Stir to completely dissolve the salt so that there are no tiny lumps collected at the bottom of the glass.
- Soak the cotton wool in the warm water and squeeze gently to get rid of the excess water.
- Tilt your head so that the affected ear faces upwards for easy remedy application.
- Place a few drops of salty water in the ear and remain in this position for five minutes.
- Wipe the softened wax using a clean towel to get rid of the earwax blockage.
- Once this is done, tilt your head in the opposite direction to drain the salty water.
- You may need to clean the outer ear once more depending on the extent of the blockage.
- Repeat this procedure if the other ear is infected.
2. Vinegar + Rubbing Alcohol:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 1 Teaspoon each of vinegar and rubbing alcohol, sterile cotton wool and Q-tip.
This remedy combines the healing properties of two common home remedies: vinegar and rubbing alcohol. The purpose of the vinegar is to destroy any bacteria or fungi in the inner ear, thus preventing the affected ear from getting infected. The rubbing alcohol on the other hand, is a drying agent which helps dissolve the accumulated wax so that it is easy to get rid of. Combining the two remedies makes for an effective solution for the natural treatment of accumulated earwax.
- Mix equal amounts of the rubbing alcohol and the vinegar and stir until you have an even mixture.
- Soak the cotton wool in the mixture for a minute.
- Tilt your head sideways so that the affected ear faces upwards.
- Take the wet wool and squeeze three drops of the remedy into the ear.
- Wait it out for five minutes to give the remedy some time to soften the wax.
- You will then tilt your head to allow gravity enable the drainage of the remedy. This should also help the softened wax come to the outside ear.
- Remove the wax from the outer ear using a sterile Q-tip.
- Repeat this procedure for the other ear.
3. Olive Oil:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 2 Tablespoons of olive oil (or mustard oil), a warm water bath, a dropper and ear buds.
Olive oil is an age-old remedy used for the natural treatment of earwax blockage. Olive oil is used to soften the wax, which in turn makes it easier to get rid of. Additionally, the oil’s antiseptic properties go a long way in preventing ear infections that may accompany the earwax blockage. The purpose of the water bath is to warm the oil so that it reduces the discomfort. In the absence of olive oil, mustard oil is a perfect substitute for this remedy.
- Place the olive oil in a bowl and then put the bowl in a warm water bath. This is done to heat the oil indirectly without destroying its structure.
- Use a dropper to put 5 drops of the warm olive oil in the affected ear.
- Tilt your head sideways; this way, the infected ear faces upwards and it is easy to put the drops of olive oil.
- Allow the oil to remain in the affected ear for a few minutes until the wax is soft enough to migrate to the outer ear.
- Tilt your head in the opposite direction to drain the oil and softened wax.
- Dab some dry cotton wool to soak in the used oil.
- Use sterile cotton buds/Q tips to remove the wax from the outer ear. Be careful not to poke the ear further as this could cause injuries in the inner ear.
- Repeat the procedure with the other ear if affected.
4. Warm Water:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: A bulb syringe, warm water, soft towel and cotton ear buds.
In the absence of any of the aforementioned home remedies, one of the best solutions is to use plain warm water. The warm temperatures help soften the wax and reduce the overall discomfort caused by the earwax blockage. Using a syringe instead of a dropper is recommended for this particular remedy because the gentle pressure helps break down the hardened wax. The most important thing to remember when using this remedy is to make sure that the water used is clean and filtered to avoid introducing bacteria to the already-affected ear.
- Use the syringe to suck in some of the warm water. Double check to make sure that the temperature of the water is only slightly higher than the body temperature; Hot water will damage the ears and cause more pain.
- Tilt the head to allow the affected ear face skywards.
- Gently squeeze the bulb on the syringe to release the water into the ear canal.
- Remain in the tilted position for a few minutes and then tilt in the opposite direction to drain the warm water.
- Clean the earwax using the ear buds.
5. Baby Oil:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: Baby oil, an ear dropper and a cotton ball. Mineral oil may be used in place of baby oil.
Baby oil is another home remedy recommended for earwax removal. Its gentle nature means that it is able to dislodge the accumulated wax without predisposing the ear to further damage. Mineral oil is also an ideal substitute for baby oil, and may be used as outlined in the procedures below.
- Fill the ear dropper with baby oil and then tilt the head with the affected ear facing upwards.
- Place a piece of sterile cotton wool on the ear opening to prevent the oil from flowing out as well as to allow it to act on the accumulated wax.
- Retain this position for a few minutes and then tilt your head in the opposite direction to allow the oil to drain.
- Clean the outer ear with a soft towel.
- Repeat this with the other ear if need be.
- Use this remedy at least once daily until the symptoms subside.
6. Baking Soda Solution:
Time Required:10 Min
What You Need: 1/4 Teaspoon of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of warm water, dropper, bulb syringe and a soft cloth.
Baking soda is one of the remedies recommended for earwax removal as it not only softens the wax; it also acts as a cleanser that gets rid of any foreign objects accumulated in the ear. Make sure you use warm water to dissolve the baking soda and prepare an effective home remedy. After applying the remedy, you will need to flush the ear using warm water to ensure that all the baking soda is removed. Follow the simple steps below to make the most of baking soda.
- Dissolve the baking soda in the water before use.
- Tilt your head and then, using a dropper, put a few drops of the water-based solution in the affected ear.
- Wait out for 10 minutes for the baking soda to act.
- Use a bulb syringe to flush some warm water into the ear and get rid of the baking paste,
- Bend the head sideways in the opposite direction so that the remedy and warm water flow out and release the wax.
- Clean the ear externally, and use this remedy at least once daily to remove earwax.
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: A dropper, 3 drops of glycerine, and some cotton wool (ensure it is sterile).
Glycerine is yet another common home remedy for earwax removal. Its lubricating properties not only loosen the impacted wax, they also reduce the pain and discomfort in the affected ear. Add to this the remedy’s lubricating properties and you have a gentle but effective remedy. The glycerine loosens the wax and aids in its removal.
- Tilt your head sideways and let the affected ear face the sky.
- Using a dropper, place three drops of the glycerine in the affected ear and leave in for at least 15 minutes.
- You may want to cover the ear opening with cotton wool to prevent the glycerine from flowing outwards.
- Remove the cotton wool and then flush the ear using warm water.
- Dry the ear externally.
Other home remedies that may be used for earwax removal include almond oil, coconut oil and omega-3 fatty acids. Follow the procedure provided for the oil remedies mentioned above. If the symptoms persist after a week, make sure you get medical attention.