According to new research, two thirds of Brits (65%) risk permanent damage to their hearing by attempting to remove earwax themselves. This includes 69% who are sticking cotton buds in their ears, a third (33%) who use their fingers, and others who opt for pencils (1%), paper clips (3%), hair grips (6%) and match sticks (3%) in a desperate bid to tackle their blocked or itchy ears.
However, what most people don’t know, is you should never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear, or else you risk damage to your hearing, or else you risk pushing earwax further into your ear canal and lead to impacted wax, infection or even a perforated ear drum.
That’s why Specsavers teams across Devon have put together some top tips and advice on how to properly manage your ear wax, and what to avoid.
Ear wax is produced by the outer part of the ear canal, and is made up of natural oil and sweat, mixed with dead skin cells and hair. When ear wax builds up, it can sometimes feel as if you’ve lost your hearing as noises can become more muffled, or you may experience ringing or a popping sensation or feel pain or a ‘fullness’ in your ear.
To avoid excess wax build up, it’s important to keep your ears clean. Ear wax does usually fall out on its own, however you should still regularly wipe around the outside of your ear, particularly after showering or washing your face.
Often, eardrops or olive oil can help to soften the wax, making it easier to remove. However, these drops can cause the earwax to expand, making the blockage worse and potentially causing further irritation.
If you have any concerns about using these products you should always consult your pharmacist or GP. If you find that it’s still causing a persistent blockage, it’s best to seek professional advice.
The golden rule
Most importantly, you should avoid putting anything in your ears that could push earwax further into your ear canal and lead to impacted wax, infection or even a perforated ear drum.
Specsavers’ chief audiologist, Gordon Harrison, said: ‘Trying to clean out ears by using small objects such as pencils should always be avoided, as not only can they make matters worse, but they can lead to serious and possibly permanent damage to your hearing.
‘We carry out an estimated 40,000 ear wax removals a year, so there is not much we haven’t seen. IF your experiencing any trouble with your ears, please do give us a call - our experience and training make our audiology teams the go-to experts in this field.’
‘Our audiology stores are open for urgent and essential services, including earwax removal.’
 Specsavers Customer Panel 29/04/20 – 01/05/20 (survey of 1,643 people)