August 24, 2023
Why Not to Use Q-Tips for Your Ears

Connected Health’s concierge primary care physician, Dr. Chaitali Sarkar, explains how to properly use cotton swabs to clean your ears and tips to avoid potential damage.

Cotton swabs, often known by their brand name Q-Tips, are commonly used for hygiene purposes, but have become one of the most misused tools when it comes to ear upkeep. Although they seem like the most convenient way to clean your years, it is important to remember that using them incorrectly can actually do more harm than good.

Dr. Sarkar explains that when it comes to using cotton swabs to clean your ears, “it is best to use them only for the outer ear (the area you can visibly see). Never insert cotton swabs deep inside the ear canal. Doing this could injure the delicate skin inside your ears, or worse, cause damage to your eardrum. Your ears are actually self-cleaning, so it is often not necessary to remove earwax.”

If the earwax buildup in your ears is significant, it is best to contact a medical professional for assistance. Doctors, nurses, and audiologists can safely and effectively remove the buildup with ear irrigation or a wax-dissolving solution.

If you use a Q-Tip and notice pain, ringing in the ear, hearing loss, bleeding, ear discharge, or a feeling of fullness, immediately see a health care provider as these could be signs of a serious infection or a buildup.

To safely remove earwax from your ear, follow these steps:

1.    Soften. Use a dropper to carefully add a few drops of baby oil, mineral oil, or glycerin into your ear. This helps soften the earwax. Please note: Avoid application if you have known or suspected membrane damage or perforation.

2.    Irrigate. A couple of days after softening the earwax, irrigate your ear. Use a bulb syringe to add warm water to your ear canal.

3.    Drain. After irrigating, gently tip your head to the side to allow the water to drain from your ear.

4.    Dry. Use a clean towel to dry the outer part of your ear.

Remember, the safest way to have excess earwax removed is by a healthcare provider. Connected Health offers ear lavage cleanings during physical exams.

Connected Health, located in Wexford, PA offers concierge primary care that is accessible, personalized, and proactive. Everyone’s healthcare journey is different. Through our personalized approach, we firmly believe that having high-touch, relationship-based medical care saves patients time and money while improving their health. Connected Health is accepting new patients. To schedule a consultation, please call 724-933-4305.

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