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Earwax

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Home Treatment

Do not try to remove earwax if you have ear pain or a discharge that looks different than earwax, if you think you have a ruptured eardrum, if you have had ear surgery, or if you have tubes in your ears.

  • Soften and loosen the earwax with warm mineral oil or a mixture of hydrogen peroxide mixed with an equal amount of room-temperature water. Place 2 drops of the fluid, warmed to body temperature, in the ear twice a day for up to 5 days. Be sure to warm the fluid because cold fluid can cause pain and dizziness.
  • Once the wax is loose and soft, all that is usually needed to remove it from the ear canal is a gentle, warm shower. Direct the water into the ear, then tip your head to let the earwax drain out. Dry your ear thoroughly with a hair dryer set on low. Hold the dryer several inches (centimeters) from your ear.
  • If the warm mineral oil and shower don't work, use a nonprescription wax softener followed by gentle flushing with an ear syringe each night for a week or two. Make sure the flushing solution is body temperature. Cool or hot fluids in the ear can cause dizziness.
  • Do not use cotton swabs, bobby pins, or other objects to clean the ear.
  • Do not use a dental irrigation device, such as a Water Pik, to remove earwax. The force of the water injures the ear canal and ruptures the eardrum.
  • Do not use ear candles. They have no proven benefit in the removal of earwax and can cause serious injury.

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:

  • Other symptoms develop, such as ear pain, hearing loss, ringing in the ears, dizziness, severe itching, or bad-smelling discharge from the ear.
  • Symptoms become more severe or frequent.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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