There are three kinds of ear drops commonly available, which can all help in softening wax prior to ear wax removal, or even sometimes bring it out without the need for further procedure.
Please note that branded ear drops such as Otex can actually contain any of the following three types – do read the label carefully.
Olive oil/Almond oil Olive oil is our preferred treatment for softening wax. It’s 100% natural, has a slightly acidic pH matching that of ear wax, and generally does a great job of softening ear wax prior to removal by either irrigation or microsuction. Rather than using some olive oil from the kitchen supply, we recommend you get something like Earol (available on Amazon, or from ourselves in clinic). Earol comes in a small spray bottle, which makes self-application very easy and convenient. It’s also sterile, and thus there’s no danger of introducing infection into the ear. Olive oil (or almond oil, which is also excellent, but has fallen a little out of favour recently due to the prevalence of nut allergies) will soften wax very effectively. It is unlikely to break down and disperse the wax on its own, but is ideal for use prior to an ear wax removal appointment.
Sodium Bicarbonate Ear drops which contain sodium bicarbonate will be a bit more active than either olive or almond oil – that is – they will usually break down and disperse the wax, and may well bring some of it out without the need for further treatment. Some people find this works very effectively for them, but it will depend on how much wax there is, and how hard/impacted it is. When ear wax is very hard and impacted, we recommend the use of sodium bicarbonate over olive oil.
Urea hydrogen peroxide-based drops The third type contains urea hydrogen peroxide as its active ingredient. Otex Express is an example of this. Due to its highly active nature, it is not recommended to be used for more than five days, and at qb earcare we don’t recommend its use at all. We suggest, if you want something to break down the wax, that you use sodium bicarbonate, which is gentler on the ear.
There are other types of ear drops, but these are the three most commonly found in pharmacies. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and ask!