In moderation, earwax is a good thing. It helps trap and move dust in the ear canal. But when you have too much earwax, your ears can get clogged. This can be uncomfortable AND make you more susceptible to ear infection.
The good news is that it can be relatively easy to treat earwax issues at home. Start with simple ear irrigation: gently squirt room temperature water into your ear. Most pharmacies carry rubber ear bulbs that make irrigation quick and easy. Tilt your head to let water (and hopefully earwax) run out into the sink. Dry your ears carefully afterwards, either with a gentle stream of warm air or by dropping alcohol into the ear to dry things out.
If your earwax is stubborn, you may need more than just water. Try one or more of these at-home treatments for a wax-clogged ear:
- Use baby oil to soften earwax. Warm baby oil to body temperature (try holding the bottle in your hands for a few minutes) and place a few drops into the ear. You can do this up to two times per day — it will help melt or soften the wax, allowing you to irrigate your ears again.
- Use peroxide to soften earwax. Squirt a dropperful of peroxide into your ear and let it bubble away for a few minutes. If you need to sit up while it works, stick a piece of cotton in the opening of the ear canal to hold the peroxide in place. After a few minutes, drain and rinse with water.
- Try an over-the-counter earwax treatment. Many solutions include peroxide (along with other ingredients) to soften earwax. The advantage of a commercial ear treatment? They often include lubricants that can help relieve dry skin in the ear canal.
If you have the opposite problem — too little earwax — you can help protect your ears with a thin layer of Vaseline (petroleum jelly). Apply the goo to the outer edges of your ear canal.