Impacted wax is probably one of the commonest ear complaints. Wax is made in the outer third of the ear canal to protect the delicate skin of the ear canal.

The commonest cause of impacted wax is the use of cotton buds or other things to get wax out of the ear. Ironically these objects push the wax further into the ear canal leading to the wax getting impacted.

There is a misconception that wax in the ear needs to be cleaned out regularly. It doesn’t in most people as it will naturally find its way out of the ear canal itself. In some people with very narrow ear canals or skin conditions of the ear canal, some help may be required usually by way of two or three drops of warm olive oil regularly (usually weekly). When this doesn’t help, general practitioners or nurse practitioners will remove the wax by syringing it (when it is safe to do so) while ear surgeons remove it with a tiny vacuum.


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