Wax is formed in everyone’s ear. But the question is ‘do we normally need to clean wax from our ears?’ Well, the answer is ‘NO’ for the matter of fact that it has a protective function in the ear.

How does wax protects the ear? 

  • It does by trapping dirt, foreign particle or insects in the canal before it reaches the eardrum. 
  • Not only it protects the eardrum from foreign substances, but it keeps the canal skin healthy by forming a waxy coat on it. 
  • This, waxy layer over the canal skin prevents it from drying and breakdown. In the absence of this waxy coat the skin becomes dry, give rise to itching and scaling, a further breakdown of the skin leads to bacterial infection. 
    • The person suffering from itching will be tempted to use earbuds or any object which fits into the canal to scratch the ear from inside just to get rid of the itching, leading to further trauma to the delicate ear canal skin, it results in swelling and redness in the canal which further aggravate itching and hence a vicious cycle develops. This whole process eventually will lead to infection of the outer ear.
  • The wax also helps to maintain the acidic PH of the ear canal which prevents the growth of harmful bacteria and fungus. 
  • If this thin layer of wax is absent the PH of the canal is altered making it more alkaline and favourable for the growth of bacteria.

    When we should remove Ear Wax?

  • Looking on to the other aspect of wax in the ear, as some people sweat more than others, similarly, the glands, in the ear canal secrete more wax in some people than others. 
  • Also, the ear canal is more tortuous in few people. This excess wax which is formed will get collected in the ear canal and tend to block the ear. This will give rise to fullness in the ear and decrease in hearing. 
  • This excess wax will also trap moisture in the ear and cause skin maceration and oedema. 
  • This provides a good breeding ground for the growth of bacteria and fungus. Bacteria are all around us, given a good growing condition a bacterium will divide.  
  • In such situations, ear drops to dissolve wax are helpful. 
  • Using earbuds to remove excess of wax tends to push the wax more inside against the eardrum. The cotton of earbuds soaks the moisture of the wax making it more hard and difficult to remove. This, give rise to pain and blocked sensation in the ear. 
  • It is advisable to remove wax under vision by an ENT doctor.

    How is wax formed in ears?

    The ear canal skin has secretary glands (pillo sebaceous unit) in the outer part of the ear canal. These glands secrete a substance called sebum at the hair follicle base. This sebum, get mixed with the shredded layer of skin of the canal (desquamated epithelium) and for cerumen (i.e wax).