Earwax, also called cerumen, serves an essential function in the body. It helps to remove dead skin cells, dirt, hair, and other debris from the ear canal.
Earwax lowers the risk of infection and prevents the ear canal from feeling uncomfortable and itchy. It also helps to reduce the irritation that water causes when it enters the ear canal.
However, it is possible for the body to overproduce earwax, allowing it to build up and block the ear canal. A blockage can also occur if a person cleans their ears using a cotton swab, as this can push the earwax further into the ear canal.
The medical term for an earwax blockage is a cerumen impaction. People can usually treat this condition at home using simple household products.
Treatments and home remedies
There are several ways to deal with an earwax blockage at home, including:
A common method for earwax removal is to add a few drops of hydrogen peroxide to a damp cotton ball and apply it to the affected ear. A person can also use a clean eyedropper to drip the solution into the ear canal.
It is essential to tilt the head so that the affected ear is pointing upward for several minutes. This will allow the fluid to drip down into the ear canal to reach the blockage.
After a few minutes, tilting the head the other way will allow the fluid and earwax to drain until the ear canal is clear.
Hydrogen peroxide is available for purchase online.
Rubber ball syringe
A similar method is to use a rubber ball syringe with warm water. A person should have the affected ear pointing upward and use the syringe to drip warm water slowly into the ear canal.
It is vital to avoid forcefully flushing the water into the ear canal, as this can cause dizziness. The water must not be too hot or too cold.
After a minute, the person should tilt their head the other way so that the fluid and earwax can drip out.
It may be necessary to repeat this process multiple times. Anyone who has an ear injury, such as a ruptured eardrum, should not use this method. My go-to rubber ball syringe is this one from Amazon:
It is possible to purchase ear drops over the counter or online to treat an earwax blockage. These are usually water- or oil-based solutions that soften the earwax. They often contain carbamide peroxide, which is similar to hydrogen peroxide.
To use an OTC solution, people should follow the instructions on the packaging. Usually, they will need to apply the solution to the affected ear twice a day for several days until the ear canal is clear. The absolute best solution I have used so far is available on Amazon:
Other household remedies
Using an eyedropper, it is also possible to apply other substances, such as:
- baby oil
- mineral oil
Again, a person should apply one or two drops with the affected ear facing upward, wait a few minutes, then tilt the head the other way to allow the fluid to drain out.