New York Eye and Ear Infirmary
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The most common problem of the outer ear is a buildup of ear wax (cerumen). This is not really a disease. Everyone makes ear wax. The amount of wax and the color and consistency vary greatly. The skin that lines the outer ear canal tends to carry wax out naturally.

Accordingly, it is acceptable to occasionally clean the very outside of the ear canal with a Q-tip. However, this must be done very carefully and the Q- tip should never be inserted deeper than the level of the cotton ball on the end. Inserting a Q- tip too deeply can lead to serious ear injury.

If ear wax builds up excessively it can sometimes be removed with over-the-counter ear removal drops. If that is not adequate you should see your physician who can carefully wash your ears or refer you to a specialist. Some people never need their ears cleaned; others need them cleaned by a physician regularly. People who wear hearing aids tend to collect more ear wax and need more regular professional cleaning.

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