Skip to Content

Cotton swabs in ears do more damage than good

For a lot of people, swabbing your ear with a cotton swab is a part of your daily hygiene routine. While using it on the exterior of your ear is fine, swabbing deeper in the ear canal can actually cause damage. New guidelines for family and ear specialist doctors reaffirms that danger.

“Especially with certain ear canals, it will impact that wax. It will just build up in there,” said Dr. Kalob Parsons, and audiologist with Better Hearing and Audiology in Idaho Falls. “There actually have been the occasion or two where we’ve actually pulled out the tips of Q-tips in people’s ears.”

Parsons said impacted wax can cause temporary hearing loss, and over time cause other problems. In worst case scenarios, people stick items too far down their ear canals, and damage the ear drum or other vital ear components. The best way to clean ears daily is to use a simple wet cloth. “And that gets in about as far as you need to get that ear wax,” said Parsons.

Folks who’ve used cotton swabs to clean their ear canals can clean any impacted wax through basic flushing techniques. “Use a bulb syringe,” said Dr. Mark Capeener, an Ear, Nose, and Throat Doctor with Mountain View Hospital. “We’ve always used half rubbing alcohol and half white-vinegar when we do it for patients in our office.”

If basic flushing doesn’t work, both Dr. Parsons and Capeener say setting a doctors appointment is usually the way to go. “We have special training and have the instruments necessary to clean your ears out,” said Parsons.

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

News Team


KIFI Local News 8 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content