Earwax is a normal build-up of dead cells, hair, foreign material such as dust, and natural wax which forms a protective coating on the skin in the ear canal. The quantity of earwax produced varies greatly from person to person.
A doctor or nurse can look into the ear canal and confirm a plug of earwax has formed, though this isn’t always necessary. A plug of earwax is not a serious problem, more a nuisance. You only need to remove earwax if it is causing symptoms such as dulled hearing or when fitting a hearing aid.
Do not put anything in your ear if you have pain or if you are aware that you have a perforation (hole in the ear drum)- see your nurse/GP.
Do not try to remove wax using a cotton bud or any other small item – this only stimulates the wax secreting glands – to make more wax – and gives a serious risk of infection and perforation! Nothing smaller than your elbow should go into your ear!
Note: If you think you have ear wax, do not try to clean the ear canal with cotton wool buds. This can make things worse, as you will push some earwax deeper inside. It may also cause an ear infection.