Keeping Me Well - Cardiff and Vale University Hospital


Wax is an important and natural secretion found in the ear. It helps protect the ear against bacteria, helping to prevent infection. If ear wax is not causing any problem it is best to leave it alone as the ear is self-cleaning and the wax should naturally clear itself.

However ear wax can build up causing earache, hearing loss, itchiness, Tinnitus, or dizziness

If you think you may have earwax, haven’t experienced ear surgery, and don’t have a hole in your eardrum, you can manage it with softening drops.

Inserting softening drops

You can use softening drops on a weekly basis to manage the build up of earwax.  Experts suggest using either olive oil, almond oil, salt water or sodium bicarbonate drops. Whichever of these recommended liquids you use, they should be at room temperature. It may be easier (if possible) to have somebody else instil the drops into your ears for you. 

  1. Lie on a bed with an ear facing upwards towards the ceiling.
  2. Pull the ear gently backwards and upwards to open and straighten the
    canal, this will allow the drops to enter deeper into the canal.
  3. Put just TWO drops of the liquid into your ear canal.
  4. Let go of your ear and gently massage the cartilage at the front of your ear to help coat all of the ear canal with drops.
  5. Lie with the treated ear facing upwards for at least five minutes to allow the drops to soak in.
  6. Place a small amount of cotton wool in the outer part of your ear for approximately ten minutes to prevent drops from running out. After ten minutes remove the cotton wool and sit up slowly.
  7. Repeat the process if necessary in the second ear.

Ear wax methods that are NOT recommended

The use of cotton buds, matches or hair clips is NOT recommended as a way to remove earwax. These can cause damage and infection in the ear, and can worsen the blockage. Ear candling (or Hopi Ear Candling) is also NOT recommended as a way of treating ear wax. It can result in burns and studies have shown that it does not remove ear wax.

Keeping Me Well - Cardiff and Vale University Hospital

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