Learn about the dangers of cotton swabs for ears and what to do if you cleaned ear with q tip now can’t hear

Earwax is essential to keeping your ears clean and healthy, but too much of it can cause health issues, or at least be irritating.  Too much earwax  can cause hearing loss, physical discomfort, tinnitus, ear infections and other problems. 

You may want to clean your ears occasionally or even regularly, depending on how much ear wax you produce. Many people use cotton swabs or Q tips to do so, but is it safe to do so?

Can you use cotton swabs to clean your ears?

Cotton ear swabs are good for cleaning your OUTER ear - the part with all the folds including your ear lobes. Cotton swabs should not be used for cleaning inside the ear canal. Cotton swabs are a leading cause of ear injury due to eardrum trauma. When you use a cotton swab you can’t see how close you are to your eardrum so it’s very easy to bump into your eardrum - it’s also quite painful! Additionally, using cotton swabs to clean out earwax can be difficult, sometimes it just results in the earwax being pushed further down your ear canal.

Are cotton swabs bad for ears?

Many people ask “can you use cotton swabs to clean your ears,” but you need to be careful what part of your ear you clean with them. Cotton swabs are only safe to clean the folds and surrounding area of the outer ear. Cotton swabs are not good to use in your ear canal. Doctors do not recommend using cotton swabs to clean your ear canal.

How can I safely clean my ears?

If your problem isn’t serious, but you feel like you have too much earwax buildup, you can gently clean the outside of your ears. Just use a washcloth. You also can try putting a few drops of baby oil, hydrogen peroxide, mineral oil, or glycerin in your ear to soften the wax. 

A modern approach to earwax removal is to use a digital otoscope with a wax removal attachment. ScopeAround makes a number of devices that are safe to use because you can see inside your ear the entire time you are using the device. You can’t see what you are doing if you poke your ear with a Q-Tip. Digital otoscopes have integrated LED lights to illuminate the ear canal and help the tip of the otoscope avoid your eardrum. Ear wax removal is easy to do because a soft silicone-tipped spoon attaches to the end of the otoscope and that combined with the camera gives you the perfect tool to scrape out pieces of earwax. 

I can't hear after cleaning ear with q tip. What should I do?

If you can’t hear after cleaning with a q tip, especially combined with pain, then you should seek medical attention right away. If you just think you have a clogged ear canal, but aren’t in pain, then you can perform an at-home ear inspection with a digital otoscope to see what is really going on. If your ear canal looks clogged you can try to clean out the earwax with your ScopeAround otoscope and its silicone ear spoons designed to scoop out earwax. If your ear canal is impacted with hardened ear wax then you may still need to go to the doctor to get it removed if you can’t remove it yourself. 

Purchase a digital otoscope

If you frequently have irritated ears or ear wax build up then it might be a good idea to buy an ear wax removal camera, or digital otoscope, to do the job yourself. If you cleaned ear with q tip now can’t hear then a digital otoscope is a good way to perform a self examination. 

ScopeAround was the first company to make an ear inspection camera for consumer use and they have the most experience and customer feedback manufacturing these devices. ScopeAround makes ear cleaning cameras that are stand-alone devices as well as ones that are compatible with iPhone (iOS) and Android mobile devices as well as PC (Windows) or Mac (OSX) computers.


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