Should You Clean Your Ears With a Cotton Swab?

Many people use cotton swabs to remove earwax as a normal part of their self-care routine. However, cotton swabs can be extremely dangerous in the ears: A 2017 article published in the Journal of Pediatrics revealed that an average of 36 children went to the emergency room each day with ear injuries related to cotton swabs—with about 73% of those injuries related to ear cleaning.

Practice Caution with Cotton Swabs

Cotton swabs are used for a variety of cleaning and cosmetic purposes. While safe for cleaning around the ear, using cotton swabs inside the ear poses the following risks:

  • Foreign objects inside the ear. Pieces of cotton left behind in the ear canal may cause long-term pain or hearing loss.
  • Impacted earwax. Cotton swabs push earwax further into your ear canal rather than remove it. This impacted build-up causes even more discomfort and makes it harder to shed earwax naturally.
  • A cotton swab inserted too far into the ear can rupture your ear drum.
  • Cotton swabs push earwax and bacteria deeper into the ear, which may cause ear infections.

If you’re experiencing pain, ringing in the ears or hearing loss after using a cotton swab in your ear, seek professional care at River’s Edge Hospital’s Urgent Care Department.

The Benefits of Earwax

Earwax isn’t the most glamorous way our body keeps us safe but serves many important purposes.

  • Keeps out debris. Earwax prevents debris and other small particles from getting further into the delicate inner ear.
  • Earwax is made of fat and oil secretions designed to moisturize the ear canal and prevent it from drying out or becoming itchy.
  • Prevents infection. Earwax prevents bacteria from entering the body.

How to Clean Your Ears

Earwax seems stubborn, but the body has natural ways of shedding old wax including chewing, jaw movement and shedding dry skin from the ear canal. Again, it might not paint a pretty picture, but it’s effective.

Ear wax doesn’t often build up, yet when it does, you may experience a feeling of fullness in the ear, ringing, pain or loss of hearing. Forget cleaning your ear with a cotton swab and make an appointment at River’s Edge Hospital’s Urgent Care Department where ear wax is removed safely.

Choose River’s Edge Hospital’s Urgent Care Department

Urgent care centers, like River’s Edge Hospital’s Urgent Care Department, offer fast, expert medical services when you don’t need emergency care. Ear wax removal, other ear or eye infections, sprains, skin issues, the common cold and flu are all ailments our providers treat regularly.

To get fast, reliable medical care from River’s Edge Hospital’s Urgent Care Department, walk-in Monday–Friday from noon to 7:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m.–4 p.m. 

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