What is ear wax?
Ear wax is...not actually wax at all!
Its official name is cerumen, and it is a slightly acidic combination of oil, sweat, dirt and dead skin cells.
Why is it there?
Ear wax provides a protective antibacterial effect by helping to maintain an acidic condition in the ear canal, while also keeping it moist, and protecting it.
It's a good, healthy thing to have in your ear!
The natural process of skin cell migration will normally bring ear wax out with it, slowly (at about twice the speed that your fingernails grow).
So why are my ears blocked?
The natural migration of the wax out of the ear canal can be impeded, due to
narrow ear canals
pronounced bends in the ear canal
regular use of earplugs, in-ear earphones, or hearing devices
Some ears produce very little ear wax, and never get blocked. Other ears regularly produce significant amounts of wax, and get blocked regularly. We're all different!
Are cotton buds evil?
You might have heard advice to never use cotton buds, to never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear, etc.
This is sound advice!
When using cotton buds, typically you will get a little wax out, but you'll push some wax deeper into your canal. Repeated use of cotton buds will create a solid, impacted, wall of wax, which can be painful, and is more difficult to get out. It can still be done, just requires more softening, and potentially a few attempts.
Make your life, and the life of your earwax removal specialist (that's us!) easier...
DON'T USE COTTON BUDS!