Earwax probably isn’t something you’ve given much thought to, but it’s actually a very important part of your ear health. Find everything you never thought you needed to know about earwax here.

What is the main cause of earwax?

Most of us are familiar with earwax, and probably never think too much of it. But why do we have earwax in the first place? Well, earwax is a good thing to have in your ears as it’s beneficial for the protection of your ears and your ear health. That’s why your body naturally produces it.


Its sticky texture prevents bacteria and germs from moving further into the ear, where they can cause infections.

Maintains pH

Earwax lubricates the skin and helps to maintain the ear’s natural pH balance, which prevents irritation and dryness, as well as preserving overall ear health. Its slightly acidic pH is hostile to bacteria, stopping growth and possible infection.

In-built cleaning service

Eventually, the earwax containing any trapped dirt or bacteria will simply fall out without you noticing, cleaning as it goes.

Keeps out unwelcome guests

Earwax is also a natural insect repellent – so if you’ve ever felt a tickling sensation in your ear, you don’t need to worry about anything creepy nor crawly

Why are we so earwax obsessed? Could it be that the nation's ears are getting waxier?  Find out more in our latest hindsight report: An ear in review

Problems caused by earwax

Earwax is produced naturally by glands in the ear canal, and usually the body knows the right level of earwax to produce to protect the ear and not cause any problems. Sometimes though, earwax production might fall out of kilter, and your body might produce more earwax than it needs, or it becomes drier or stickier than normal.

This can happen for a variety of reasons, like excessive headphone use, having narrow ear canals or as a result of certain skin conditions or ear infections.

What are the symptoms of earwax build-up?

An earwax build-up can cause:

  • Itchy ears
  • Discomfort, or earache
  • Tinnitus
  • Hearing loss
  • Infections

And for hearing aid wearers it can cause:

  • Damage or a need for frequent cleaning of the hearing aid
  • Discomfort or poor fitting of a hearing aid and its day-to-day wearing
  • Hearing aids to make a whistling noise

What does the colour of your earwax mean?

How to remove earwax

Traditionally, medical professionals would use methods such as ear syringing, or candling to remove an earwax build-up. We avoid these methods as they can cause additional complications to your ear health, such as infections, tinnitus, and damage to the eardrum.

Experiencing earwax build-up symptoms?

If you’re struggling with earwax build-up, see a professional to get your earwax removed safely.

Ear candling

Does ear candling work?

Impacted earwax

Causes, symptoms and treatment

Advice on ear cleaning

Tips on how to clean your ears safely