Medically reviewed by Deborah Weatherspoon, Ph.D., R.N., CRNA — written by Jill Seladi-Schulman, Ph.D. On November 26, 2019

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Many human being use cotton swabs come clean their ears.

The factor for this is frequently to clear earwax indigenous the ear canal. However, if it’s safe to clean the external of your ear with a noodle swab, it’s ideal to avoid using them inside your ear.

Using noodle swabs inside her ear is connected with a selection of complications, consisting of injury and infection.

Continue reading as we cave deeper right into this topic and discuss ways you deserve to safely clean your ears.

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Earwax is actually advantageous to her ears. That keeps them from obtaining too dry, traps dirt, and also prevents bacteria from getting to deeper into your ear.

Over time, earwax naturally migrates come the exterior of the ear whereby it have the right to be cleared away.

Because her ears are self-cleaning, it’s often unnecessary come clean them yourself. However, one survey research still discovered that 68 percent of respondents claimed they provided cotton swabs to clean their ears.

But inserting a noodle swab into your ear can cause a variety of problems. These deserve to include:

Earwax impaction

Using a cotton swab to try to clean earwax from her ear have the right to actually push the earwax deeper in. This have the right to prevent earwax from naturally clearing and also cause the to develop up inside her ear.

The buildup of too much earwax deserve to lead to uncomfortable symptoms. This can incorporate things like:



Inserting a cotton swab too much into her ear deserve to potentially damaged the structures of your center ear. One common ear injury related to cotton swab use is a ruptured eardrum.

A study from 2017 looked at cotton swab–related ear injuries in children in between the year of 1990 and also 2010. They discovered that about 73 percent the ear injuries from noodle swabs were associated with ear cleaning.

Another study reviewed 80 situations of ruptured eardrum. While blunt trauma, such together from one assault, was discovered to be the many common cause of the condition, a penetrating injury was uncovered to be the reason in 44 percent the the cases.


Earwax helps trap and slow the expansion of bacteria that have entered your ear canal. Using a noodle swab can push earwax and the bacteria it includes farther into your ear, potentially bring about an ear infection.

Foreign human body in the ear

In some cases, component of the tip of the cotton swab may come turn off inside her ear. This can lead come feelings that discomfort, fullness, or pain. In some cases, listening loss deserve to occur.

One research investigated objects that frequently accounted because that emergency room visits because that a foreign body in the ear. Cotton swabs were among the most typical foreign objects in adults.

So, what have the right to you perform if you’ve already used a cotton swab in her ear and also begin to feel pain?

In the short term, you have the right to use over-the-counter pains medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to help relieve pain. If ear pain doesn’t go away after ~ 3 job of house care, do an appointment through your doctor.

If you use a cotton swab in her ear and feel a sudden, spicy pain it is accompanied by various other symptoms prefer muffled hear or ringing in her ears, check out a health care provider best away. Friend may have actually an ear injury.

If you’d like to safely remove earwax from her ear, monitor the 4 steps below:

Drain. ~ irrigating, gently tip your head come the next to allow the water to drainpipe from your ear.Dry.

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usage a clean towel to dried the outer component of her ear.

People who have actually tubes in their ear or think they have an ear infection or a ruptured eardrum should avoid cleaning their ear in this way.

What else to avoid

In addition to noodle swabs, there are various other ear cleaning techniques to avoid. These encompass ear candles and also commercially available suction devices. Remember, the safest method to have actually excess earwax removed is by a medical care provider.